Gordon Hocheiser’s mother, an 87-year-old widow, is ruining her son’s love life. He resents her so much that he tries to scare her to death by donning a gorilla suit and attacking her in bed, only to end up on the receiving end of her cane. An attempt is made to persuade Sidney, his brother, to take their mother off Gordon’s hands. Sidney has troubles of his own, though, repeatedly getting mugged in Central Park.
Gordon, a lawyer, made a deathbed promise to his father not to place his mother in a rest home. She continuously asks, “Where’s Poppa?” His repeated response is, “Still dead.”
Gordon locates a nurse, Louise, whose patients have a peculiar habit of dying in her care. He hires Louise to be his mother’s companion, hoping for the worst, and falls in love with Louise in the process.
Sidney borrows the gorilla costume and wears it home. Rather than scaring off muggers, they force him to attack a woman in the park, who turns out to be an undercover police officer. At the end of his rope, with Louise unable to stand the mother one minute more and threatening to leave Gordon, he drives to a rest home and drops off his mother at the entrance, telling her that Poppa is there. Then he drives away.
In a post-credits scene removed from the movie but still seen in cable prints, Gordon’s ruse to keep his mother at the rest home has failed, and she is once again home with him, with Louise following through on her threat to leave him. Resigned to the belief he will never be rid of her, he dejectedly climbs into bed with his mother, saying, “Here’s Poppa.”