Nothing in Common
Tom Hanks – David Basner
Jackie Gleason – Max Basner
Eva Marie Saint – Lorraine Basner
Hector Elizondo – Charlie Gingas
Barry Corbin – Andrew Woolridge
Bess Armstrong – Donna Martin
Sela Ward – Cheryl Ann Wayne
Release Date: 30 July 1986 (USA)
Nothing in Common catches two TV and movie legends at the opposite ends of their careers. In 1986 Tom Hanks had made Splash and a few more moderately successful movies, but Big and his other successes were still ahead of him. At 70 years old, Jackie Gleason was very ill with cancer and thrombosed hemorrhoids during filming, and NIC would be his last film role.
Hanks plays David Basner, a Chicago ad exec who’s seemingly got everything going for him. He’s on his way up at his agency and does well with the ladies. When we first see him he is mile high clubbing with a flight attendant. “I’m a frequent flyer,” he says, “they give me a bonus.” He is gunning to make partner at the agency and is trying to land a big airline account. Well, I guess you could call frolicking with the stewardess research. While at dinner with the owner of the airline, he also decides that he needs to land the owner’s daughter (Sela Ward).
In the middle of all this, Basner finds out that his parents are getting divorced after 38 years of marriage. Being semi-estranged from his father (Gleason), Basner is surprised to find out how much trouble the old man is in. Max Basner is a veteran salesman himself, but he is gradually being forced out by young hotshots like his son and he has some other problems that he has been hiding from his wife and son.
NIC gave Hanks a chance to stretch from comedy. Remember that he started out in a sitcom and in 1986 he was several years from becoming an Oscar winning dramatic actor. I tend to like Hanks but I had some issues with his character. He’s clearly supposed to be likable and charming, but he has one of those answering machine messages that says, “Hello…hello…I can’t hear you…Ha ha leave a message.” I must now kill him.
But David Basner does have to grow up a little bit. Is he going to land the big contract and the girl? Or will he choose the old girlfriend who clearly still cares for him? At the end of the movie I cared a little bit more about him than I did around the middle.
Speaking of sitcoms, because it’s directed by Garry Marshall (Happy Days) the movie does have a sitcom sensibility – and a year later they made it into an actual sitcom that only lasted seven episodes. Hanks is surrounded by a quirky creative team at his agency, including Dan Castellaneta who would go on to become Homer Simpson. The scenes of them working on pitch ideas probably would have been more fun if you watched them before Mad Men came along. I don’t know, of course, but the feeling I get is that NIC is somewhere between Bewitched and Mad Men as far as what working at an ad agency is really like.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
Although I didn’t start out caring for it, the movie did grow on me, and it’s worth seeing if only for our last chance to see why they called Jackie Gleason “The Great One.”
A MISPLACED BOY WILL RETURN