Ah, an American classic, with some very interesting implications....

Rodney Dangerfield plays Monty Capuletti (a name probably intended to invoke the Montagues and the Capulets of Romeo and Juliet), a somewhere-below-middle-class baby photographer with a supportive wife but a tight-fisted super-rich mother-in-law (Mrs. Monihan, played by 1940s sex symbol Geraldine Fitzgerald) who despises Monty's bevy of vices (drinking, smoking, wolfing down junk food and all kinds of unhealthy dishes, gambling, and use of some socially acceptable drugs). Not too long after his daughter Allison's wedding (for which Monty and best friend Nicky, played aggressively by Joe Pesci, destroy the cake with their drunk driving), the mother-in-law "dies" in a plane crash. Spoilers ahead. Oh, but there's a will, one which says that Monty gets the family's $10 million department store empire if he can go a year without indulging in his bad habits.

A subplot has virginal daughter Allison's marriage to Julio disrupted by her rather bizzaro unwillingness to have sex -- she's especially offended when Julio produces El Joy De Sexo, an illustrated book of sex positions (in Spanish, naturally) to help in her sexual education). Julio spends a few episodes of doing a very bad job trying to talk to his wife, who won't even see him.

Monty's brother-in-law Clive (played by Jeffrey Jones, probably most famous as the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off), naturally, wants Monty to fail because, well, then Clive will get everything. But, really, he doesn't seem to do much in this vein other than tricking Monty into designing a line of "regular guy" clothes which get Monty laughed at a lot by some hoity-toity elites at a fashion show put on to showcase the results. (There's a scene where a new neighbor with a slutty hot wife suspiciously moves in and offers Monty free drugs, which Monty rejects -- but it's unclear if this is really at all connected to Clive). But the fashion show humiliation, combined with the seeming abandonment of his friends (engineered by Clive, who convinced them they were a bad influence and ought not to show up), drives Monty to just give up. But at this nadir, just as he's headed out to get drunk and blow the inheritance, who should he run into but estranged son-in-law Julio, who is packing a small pistol as a show of force, who accidentally shoots Monty in the butt — hospitalizing Monty long enough for the year to pass and the inheritance to be his. While in the hospital, it is revealed to Monty that his clothing line has become a huge success with "the kids" and is flying off the shelves, further enhancing his newfound fortune.

The year having run, Monty and family celebrate on a yacht (where an exhausted Julio tries vainly to hide from Allison, who has reconciled with him and become insatiable in her sexual demands, quoting liberally from El Joy De Sexo). Mother-in-law's lawyer shows up, seemingly to finalize the inheritance, but turns out to be accompanied by.... Mrs. Monahan, the mother-in-law! Having faked her own death to trick Monty into flying right (and to test Clive's resolve, which she deems to have failed). In the end, they all live together in a mansion, where Monty seems to have turned around to fully agreeing with mother-in-law's views on his various debaucheries —- but then he sneaks off under pretense of taking a healthy walk to join Nicky and friends in the basement for pizza, poker and beer.


Now, about the implications -- it is shown for example how Monty can't stand Julio, has a hard time even looking him in the eye or shaking his hand, for no apparent reason other than Julio being from a different social class -— but isn't this exactly the reason we're supposed to be rooting for Monty over mother-in-law? And, at the same time, we're supposed to despise Clive's weakly "evil" machinations, by which little more is done than to give Monty a genuine opportunity to, with belated success, express some creative ideas.

Mother-in-law, meanwhile, is made out to be all bad by the way she mistreats the staff at the department store she owns —- but when Monty shows up there with Nicky, they both are mocking and abusive to all the store staff they deal with, eventually getting thrown out after tricking a stuffy seller to goose herself on a ceramic pooch. And, probably the biggest point of all, she essentially uses that substantial inheritance to blackmail Monty into giving up the things he enjoys most -— smoking, drinking excessively, gambling (it is shown early on that he can't control his urge to go too far and blow his winnings) and doing drugs (which he hides in the medicine cabinet in a bathroom shared by his younger twelve year old daughter), and losing excess weight.... and even though he falls a bit from that ideal, she has probably added healthy years to his life by doing it!!

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