Nothing in Common

Nothing in Common is a 1986 American comedy-drama film directed by Garry Marshall. It stars Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in what would be Gleason's final film role; he was suffering from terminal cancer.
While the film did make back over 2.5 times its budget, it was not considered a big financial success on initial release, though 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, and many critics also praised Gleason's performance.


A shallow, happy-go-lucky advertising yuppie David Basner, 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. It soon becomes apparent that he must care for his aging, bitter father Max, as well as support his emotionally fragile mother Lorraine, especially since his father has also just been fired from his 35-year career in the garment industry. Although his ex-girlfriend, Donna, is sympathetic, she also tells him he needs to "grow up," but David fears that if he tried to be less child-like, his advertising work could be adversely affected. At work, David is developing a commercial for Colonial Airlines, owned by the rich and bullish Andrew Woolridge. A successful ad campaign would likely gain David a promotion to partner in his company. David develops a relationship with Woolridge's daughter, Cheryl Ann Wayne. His father is well aware of David's playboy nature. Asking at one point whether 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 favorite, 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 and slaps David on his arm, David loses his temper with this important client, and loses the account. The next day, David accompanies his dad to the operating room. His boss Charlie is sympathetic, relating an experience as a son dealing with an aging father, 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 returns to his job and gets to show Max what his work is about.


The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 57% out of 23 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 5.9/10.
Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a 2.5 out of 4 stars and stated in his review "The movie splits in two, starting out as a wise-guy comedy and ending up as the heart-breaking story of a yuppie who is trying to understand his bitter, lonely parents. Movies aren't novels."
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.


  1. Nothing In Common by Thompson Twins - 03:30
  2. Burning Of The Heart by Richard Marx - 04:15
  3. If It Wasn't Love by Carly Simon - 04:18
  4. Over The Weekend by Nick Heyward - 03:58
  5. Loving Strangers by Christopher Cross - 04:03
  6. Until You Say You Love Me by Aretha Franklin - 04:50
  7. Don't Forget To Dance by The Kinks - 04:35
  8. No One's Gonna Love You by Real To Reel - 04:12
  9. Seven Summers by Cruzados - 04:38
  10. Instrumental Theme by Patrick Leonard - 02:08
The soundtrack was released on LP, CD and cassette in 1986 by Arista Records.

Television series

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.