Happy Together (1989) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Christopher is an ambitious college freshman, striving to become a writer. Through a computer fault he's assigned the same room as Alex, a real party freak and... a girl! He's annoyed and tries to get a different room as soon as possible, but when he learns to know her, he also starts to like her. She not only improves his sexual life, but also his writing skills. Learn to take it easy, Chris!

  • Christopher leaves to pursue a career in writing. Due to a computer mixup he shares a dorm room with Alex whom he presumes is a man. However, Alex is the beautiful Alexandra! When upon first meeting her she gets on his nerves by partying and being with different men while at school! She is very outgoing. Christopher tries to get another roommate but while trying to get switched, she helps him in different ways by improving his love life and writing ability. The both of them fall in love with each other, but Alex has a boyfriend Slash who comes back for her. After putting her name on the wall of a men's bathroom, she realizes she is better of with Chris.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) enrollment office, freshman Christopher "Chris" Wooden (Patrick Dempsey) learns that his assigned roommate, Alex Page, checked in six days earlier. Nobody is home when Chris arrives at the off-campus dormitory, but Alex has filled the small apartment with furniture and placed a portable hot tub in the living room, leaving little space. Chris hurries to his theater classes, which include play writing and acting.

    During an exercise in Ruth Carpenter's acting class, he is dismayed by the antics of an attractive but kooky woman (Helen Slater), who throws herself on the floor and screams. Late that night, a man and woman come into the apartment, waking Chris and keeping him up all night as they make love in the bunk beneath him.

    In the morning, seeing a figure under the blanket, Chris lays down ground rules about bringing sexual partners into the room, and complains about Alex taking up every corner of their living space. When Alex throws back the covers, Chris is shocked to see that Alex is the crazy woman from acting class. She introduces herself as Alexandra Page. Strait-laced and proper, Chris wonders how the university's compatibility form matched him in an otherwise all-male dorm with a flighty, promiscuous woman. Alex explains that she haphazardly filled in the "yes" or "no" answers.

    Chris hears that "Gooseflesh," (Dan Schnieder) another dorm student, is looking for a roommate, but Gooseflesh insists that his girl friend, a life-size love doll named Brandi, does not approve of Chris. In subsequent days, Chris finds himself unable to live with Alex's living room bubble baths and disregard for his privacy. He complains daily to the university housing department.

    During acting class, as Alex delivers a love sonnet, the lecturer Ruth Carpenter (Barbara Babcock) criticizes her performance as superficial, telling her she needs to use her personal experiences, a "affective memory", to gain access to the source of her emotions. Later, as Chris arrives home, a dozen people are having a "pool party" in the apartment, sitting on his bed and cluttering his writing desk. Tipsy on champagne, Alex confides to Chris that she is in love with Brian, another student, even though she does not know his last name. That night, Alex awakens Chris to complain that she draws men into her life and never knows which ones to pick.

    The next day, Alex asks Chris out to dinner, but takes him to a supermarket for snacks. As they discuss their families, Alex confides that her parents are divorced and her wealthy father treats her as a possession. She is surprised that Chris's small-town parents are still married after 25 years.

    Later, feeling affectionate toward Alex, Chris buys her a string of colorful helium balloons, but as he arrives at the dorm, she rides off on a motorcycle with a man in a leather jacket. Chris joins Gooseflesh and his doll in the campus dining hall and complains that Alex "came to play" while he "came to study." Gooseflesh, a psychology major, tells Chris he "doth protest too much" about Alex. When Alex returns, she introduces Chris to the biker who is named "Slash," (Kevin Hardesey) her new "fiancé."

    Later, as Chris and Alex paint a set for a theater class, he wonders why she has paint all over her, while he is spotless. He asks if she ever thinks before she does anything, and Alex replies by asking if Chris ever does something before he thinks about it. They playfully get into a paint fight, and by the time they run back to the dorm, they are both covered in paint.

    The next day, Denny Dollenbacher (Marius Weyers), Chris's play writing teacher, gives his one-act, two-character play a "D," and tells him he needs to get "angry" on paper in order to give his characters life. That night, as Chris and Alex lie in their beds, they play a song lyric game that leads them to singing and performing "Get Happy" and "Put On A Happy Face." They dance upstairs to the roof patio, but afterward return to their separate beds.

    The next day, as Chris laments his failure as a writer, Alex suggests he needs a muse to inspire passion in his writing. When she offers to be that muse, they make love for the first time. They wake up to someone knocking on the door. Alex answers it, and Wally (Aaron Harnick) forces his way in, thinking Chris is Alex. Wally announces that the housing office sent him as the replacement for the roommate making all the complaints. Wally is ready to move in until he sees several "beefcake" posters of muscular young men on the door. Anxious to get rid of Wally, Chris slips into one of Alex's dresses and scares him away. Alex comes out of hiding and chides Chris for complaining, but laughs at how he spooked Wally. They frolic and make love together.

    Over the next several days, Chris's one-act plays get better grades, but after a month of fun with Alex, he worries about the upcoming pre-holiday exams because they have fallen behind on their studies involving reading plays. Chris devises a way for them to study together, but Alex begs off because she is working a charity event that evening. When Alex later goes to a campus carnival, he sees a long line of men waiting in line at a kissing booth, in which Alex is the prize. Chris is angry and jealous when she returns home, but Alex defends herself by claiming she raised $3,000 for the charity. Surprised at Chris's dejection, Alex says she did not realize she could hurt him. Another day later, hearing other students gossiping, Alex goes into the dormitory group shower, despite several naked men being there, and is confronted by graffiti describing "Easy Alex" as a "Whore." Crying as she tries to rub off the letters, she wails, "You're all the same!"

    Later, during an class exercise in which the actors must love each other, Chris and Alex argue. He accuses her of acting, and she accuses him of never expressing his feelings except during exercises. Alex adds that she was never acting with him. They make a dinner date at a fancy restaurant for five o'clock, but Alex does not come back to the dorm on time.

    Gooseflesh suggests that Chris get a love doll like Brandi. He confides that his "love" for the doll is a ruse to scare off prospective roommates and other distractions, such as women. He wants to study full time, finish school quickly, and make money in the real world, so he can retire early and start living. Chris criticizes Gooseflesh's plan because it prevents him from finding love. As they part, Gooseflesh gives Chris his real name: "Stanley." When Chris returns to his room, Alex awaits in a sexually revealing dress.

    At a restaurant, single men send drinks to their table to get Alex's attention. The jealous Chris admonishes her for wearing the dress and, in his anger, accidentally spills a drink on her. Returning to the dorm, Chris threatens to move out and accuses Alex of simply wanting to be wanted, rather than wanting to be loved. At that moment, Slash, Alex's former biker boyfriend, telephones, and Chris leaves.

    At a bar, he drinks with Dollenbacher, his writing teacher, and complains that following the professor's advice has ruined his life. Dollenbacher responds that Chris's emotional pain will mature him and improve his writing. Returning to the dorm, Chris finds Stanley partying in a water fountain with two, scantily-clad young women, Jill and Dory. Stanley thanks Chris for bringing him out of his shell, and Chris goes to Stanley's room to get drunk with the Brandi doll. Just then, Chris hears two motorcycles as Slash and his greasy friend, Eddie, arrive. The two go to Alex's room. Slash demands that she follow through with her pledge to marry him, but she tells him she loves Chris. Slash grabs Alex and tries to force himself on her. Eddie tries to push Chris away, but Chris knees him in the groin and throws Slash off Alex. In the ensuing struggle, Slash breaks Chris's arm and threatens to cut off his hair, but an approaching siren scares him and Eddie away. But it is not the police, only Stanley 'Gooseflesh' and his two new girlfriends who arrive in a fire engine truck with the sirens blaring to scare the two thugs away.

    At the hospital, doctors put Chris's arm in a cast, and during final exams, he uses the cast as a "cheat sheet," writing answers on the plaster and concealing them with his sling. However, Ms. Carpenter catches and disqualifies him. Facing a disciplinary board, Chris is told that if he wants to stay at the university, he will have to file for readmission at the registrar's office and take the semester over. Afterward, Dollenbacher confides in Chris that he supported him, which is why Chris was not expelled altogether. Never the less, Chris decides to leave the university and move to New York City to become a playwright there.

    Later, Stanley is helping Chris pack his bags to take him to the train station to leave for New York. Just then, Alex stands on the dorm roof shouting down to Chris on the sidewalk below. Alex pledges her love to him, but refuses to drop out of school and accompany him to New York City. Chris accuses her of refusing to leave the college "play land" that her father created for her. They repeat the acting exercise in which each claims to be worthy of the other's love. Rather than leave, Chris climbs up to the roof and embraces Alex.

    A closing text in the final shot reveals that Chris and Alex stayed on at the university and graduated together. They both currently live in New York City where Alex is an aspiring actress having done off-Broadway theater and a TV commercial, while Chris recently became a playwright having written a play for Broadway.

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