Wealthy New York City playboy Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) is perpetually drunk and completely rudderless. Dutifully supported by his sharp-tongued and quick-witted butler, Hobson (John Gielgud), Arthur reluctantly prepares to enter into an arranged marriage with heiress Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). When he meets Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli), a waitress from Queens, he falls head over heels in love, but if he backs out of his engagement with Susan, he may lose his fortune.
After his childhood buddy is murdered while visiting Detroit, rebellious cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) follows the leads to Beverly Hills, Calif., under the auspices of a vacation. He checks in with old friend Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) and starts to believe her boss, art dealer Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff), might somehow be involved in the murder. However, Lt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox) of the Beverly Hills Police Department does not trust Foley and hinders his search for evidence.