Nothing in Common

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For other uses of "Nothing in Common", see Nothing in Common (disambiguation).
Nothing In Common
Nothing in common movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Garry Marshall
Produced by Nick Abdo
Alexandra Rose
Roger M. Rothstein
Written by Rick Podell
Michael Preminger
Music by Patrick Leonard
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Edited by Glenn Farr
Delphi Films
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • July 30, 1986 (1986-07-30) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $32,324,557

Nothing in Common is a 1986 comedy-drama film, directed by Garry Marshall. It stars Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in what would prove to be Gleason's final film role; he was suffering from terminal cancer.

The film, released in 1986, was not a great financial success, but it became more popular as Hanks' fame grew. It is considered by some to be a pivotal role in Hanks' career because it marked his transition from less developed comedic roles to leads in more serious stories, while many critics also praised Gleason's performance.


The original music score was composed by Patrick Leonard. The title song, performed by the Thompson Twins, peaked at number 54 on the US Pop Charts. The film was marketed with the tagline "On his way up the corporate ladder, David Basner confronts his greatest challenge: his father."

This was Gleason's last film. The actor-comedian was suffering from terminal colon cancer, which had metastasized to his liver. He died in June 1987.

Plot summary[edit]

Happy-go-lucky advertising executive David Basner (Tom Hanks), who recently got a promotion at his Chicago ad agency, returns to work from a vacation. He is carefree until his parents split up after 36 years of marriage. Out of the blue, he must care for his aging, bitter father Max (Jackie Gleason), as well as support his emotionally fragile mother Lorraine (Eva Marie Saint). Max has also just been fired from his 35-year career in the garment industry. At work, David is developing a commercial for Colonial Airlines, owned by the rich and bullish Andrew Woolridge (Barry Corbin). A successful ad campaign would likely gain David a promotion to partner in his company. David develops a relationship with Woolridge's daughter, no-nonsense Cheryl Ann Wayne (Sela Ward). His father is well aware of David's playboy nature. Asking at one point if his son is in bed with a woman, Max adds: "Anybody you know?"

The parents separately each begin to rely more on David, frequently calling him on the phone. His mother needs help moving to a new apartment. His father needs to be driven to an eye doctor. Late one night, David's mother calls to be rescued from a bar after going out on a date, having become frightened when the man tried to kiss her goodnight. At the bar, David's mother confides that his father Max had cheated on her and humiliated her in their marriage. An enraged David goes to confront Max. Their argument ends with David saying: "Tomorrow I'm shooting a commercial about a family who loves each other, who cares about each other. I'm fakin' it." The next day, David is distracted by his problems with his father, affecting his work. As a peace offering, David offers to take Max to a nightclub to hear some of his favored jazz music. While there, David accidentally discovers that his father has been dealing with diabetes and his foot has gangrene.

Max must have surgery. Beforehand, he and Lorraine share thoughts about their life together, and she condemns him for his treatment of her. Alone, Max sobs in regret. At the agency, Andrew Woolridge insists that David accompany him to New York to promote the new ad campaign for his airline. David refuses, saying he wants to be with his father, who is scheduled for surgery. After Woolridge complains, David loses his temper with this important client, and is fired. The next day, David accompanies his dad to the operating room. His boss Charlie is sympathetic and assures David that he will personally smooth things over with Woolridge, so David can take time to be with his father. Max has two toes amputated. When he goes home from the hospital, David pushes his wheelchair. Max tells him: "You were the last person I thought would ever come through for me." Later, David recovers his job and gets to show Max what his work is about.

Main cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 56% out of 18 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 5.8/10.[1]

Television series[edit]

The movie inspired a short-lived NBC sitcom in 1987 that was scheduled to follow the highly rated Cheers. Due to audience drop-off, the sitcom was cancelled. The series starred Todd Waring as David Basner and Bill Macy as his father Max Basner.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]