Written by: Rick Podell & Michael Preminger
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Starring: Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason, Eva Marie Saint, Hector Elizondo, Sela Ward
- Theatrical trailer
Released by: Sony Pictures
My Advice: Borrow It.
David Basner (Hanks) has a great life: a successful career at an ad agency and lots of beautiful women to have sex with. Then out of the blue, his mother Lorraine (Saint) leaves his father Max (Gleason) after 36 years of marriage. Now while trying to land a major client, he has to get involved in the lives of his parents. Putting aside his own self-involvement, he finds the strength to connect to them through the pain and hurt caused by his parents’ loveless marriage.
[ad#longpost]The tag line for Nothing in Common is “It’s a Comedy. And a Drama. Just like life.” The two separate sentences are significant. Nothing in Common feels like two separate movies. There’s the comedy with the ad people humorously developing the campaign and Hanks’ character dealing with the hick client (Barry Corbin) and his sexy, aggressive daughter (Ward). Then there’s the drama with Hanks’ character coming to terms with the ordinary ugliness of his parents’ relationship and working to deal with them as people in his life, not just parents to be avoided. Each has good potential, but the pacing and subject matter are too jarring for the movie as a whole to be enjoyable. The writers should have blended the two tracks into one plot line or just focused on one of them.
This film is only watchable for the performances, especially Hanks and Gleason. This movie is Hanks’ first turn at drama and you can spot the beginnings of an actor who ends up with Oscar bookends. Hanks rises above the material and makes his character’s journey of yuppie redemption almost believable. And Gleason’s final performance is amazing. His character of Max Basner is a real bastard. Gleason shows all the anger, bitterness, and self-pity with the effortlessness of a master. When both actors are on the screen, you can feel the struggle to reach out through all the resentment that only a father-son relationship can generate. Hanks holds his own and Gleason never overshadows the younger actor.
The DVD, in a nutshell, is bad. There is only the theatrical trailer in the way of special features. And the video quality is poor. When there’s lots of light in the scenes, everything’s fine; in dim light, though, detail is lost. In one scene, Hanks is arguing with Gleason in his darkened apartment. Hanks walks into the doorway and appears to leave. Gleason keeps talking and Hanks appears out of the darkness like magic. I couldn’t see that he was waiting by the door. That’s how bad the video quality was. Unless you’re a big Hanks or Gleason fan, don’t bother with a purchase.