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Case Number 01702

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Nothing In Common

Sony // 1986 // 119 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 19th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

On his way up the corporate ladder, David Basner confronts his greatest challenge: his father.

Opening Statement

Can you believe that I've never seen a movie starring (or even co-starring) the late, great Jackie Gleason? That droll, dry delivery…those rolling eyes…that obscenely huge cigar hanging from his lips…Gleason personified the tired, grouchy old man. Who better to team up with Gleason than everyone's favorite everyman, Tom Hanks? I'm not the only one who threw this idea to the wind. In 1986, director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries), king of all that is warm and schmaltzy, brought together these two cinema icons for the fluffy, insubstantial comedy Nothing In Common. Also starring Eve Marie Saint (North By Northwest) and Hector Elizondo (Tortilla Soup), Nothing In Common stirs up your tear ducts on DVD care of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

David Basner (Hanks) is a guy that seemingly has it all. David is an advertising executive at the top of his game. David has a lot of money to burn. David has women who seemingly throw themselves into his bed. David is living a pretty good life…until (oh, like you didn't see the "until" part coming from a mile away) his grumpy father Max (Gleason) calls to let him know that his wife (Saint) of 35 years has walked out the door and left him for good, cold turkey. As David is forced to come to terms with both his parents newly single life, he also begins to fall for the beautiful and professional Cheryl Ann (Sela Ward, The Fugitive), a high powered business woman who is also the daughter of Andrew Woolridge (Barry Corbin), a high-powered client working for David's firm. As David spends more time with Max and his mother, he starts to learn that maybe he has more in common with his parents than he ever thought possible!

The Evidence

Apparently someone out there liked Nothing In Common. When I poked around on the IMDb (or, Internet Movie Data Base for those of you not in the "know"), I noticed that Nothing In Common was not just a feature film, but also a sitcom. Yes, someone actually took this movie and made it into a weekly half hour comedy starring Todd Waring (of a few episodes of NYPD Blue) and Bill Macy (not to be confused with William H. Macy). Hell in a hand basket, I say. Then again, I always was a little bit left of center.

Back to the movie at hand. Nothing In Common is pure "dramady." We're supposed to laugh, then cry. Then laugh some more, then cry some more. And so on, and so on. While Nothing In Common may have achieved that degree of emotional distress in 1986, in the year 2002 it's just a little too clichéd for the average moviegoer (unless that average moviegoer's diet consists solely of reruns of 7th Heaven and Touched By An Angel). The story of Nothing In Common is pretty simplistic and bland: well-to-do son's parents have martial problems, he must come to the rescue to not only help them, but also help himself learn about where he came from, fall in love…blah, blah, blah. The story exists only to flash in big neon lights "love your parents, they're the only ones you've got!"

It's not that I didn't like Nothing In Common. I actually have a warm spot for this movie, most of which comes from the winning performances by its two leads. Before Hanks got all serious on us, he was downright funny in his everyman roles like suspicious Ray Peterson in The 'Burbs or the wacky Richard Gassko in Bachelor Party. While some may think that he's overrated, I believe (and I say this with not an ounce of sarcasm) that Hanks is one of the best comedians to ever grace the silver screen. His delivery of lines and gags are always right on cue, and Nothing In Common is no exception. There are many funny moments in this movie featuring Hanks that are both touching and hysterical. It's too bad that can't be said for the rest of the cast and script. Lots of lulls and bland actors are walking around this flick. Jackie Gleason (in his final film performance) commands the screen with his portrayal of Max. Shallow and self-serving, Max is the father that you're glad you never had. The scenes between Hanks and Gleason crackle with wit and energy—a bittersweet reminder of what else may have been in store for audiences had we not lost "The Great One" to cancer a year later in 1987.

Along the way, audiences should have fun playing "spot the semi-famous faces!" game. All kinds of B-list actors pop in minor roles, including Anthony Starke (Return Of The Killer Tomatoes), Dan Castellaneta (Homer on The Simpsons), and of course Kathi and Scott Marshall. I'm not sure who they were in the movie—I just wanted to point out that nepotism apparently runs in the Marshall family.

With all its flaws (of which there are many), Nothing In Common is still harmless entertainment that's a nice little slice of the 1980s. There's the typically goofy "comedic montages" which consist of wacky things happening while a Thompson Twins or Richard Marx song plays for an extended period of time in the background, and a lots of Cosby-like sweaters hanging off of Hanks and the rest of the cast. Cosby sweaters…yeah, that seals the deal for me. Nothing In Common is worth at least a late night rental for those that want to travel back to the Reagan era.

Nothing In Common is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This widescreen transfer by Columbia looks surprisingly clean and clear with only a few slight imperfections. Aside of a little edge enhancement in a few scenes, this is a very clean print with only the slightest amount of dirt or grain showing up in a few scenes. Overall, this is a crisp looking picture with well-saturated colors and even black levels.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono in both English and French. Ho-hum. Much like many other mediocre 1980s comedies, Nothing In Common's soundtrack is typically bland and unexciting. There are a few instances of channel separation, though they're few and far between. While all aspects of the dialogue, effects and music are free of distortion, the sad fact is that this is a just a plain, boring track which brings nothing new to the Dolby table. Also included on this disc are subtitles in Chinese, Portuguese, Thai, Korean, English, French, and Spanish.

No matter how hard you look, the only extra feature you're gonna find on this disc is a measly theatrical trailer for Nothing In Common. What, Garry was too busy directing The Princess Diaries II to record a commentary track?

Closing Statement

Here's a test to see if you should see Nothing In Common:

On Friday nights I stay home and:
A) Alphabetize my cassette collection starting with Bryan Adams and ending with ZZ Top
B) Watch "The Jerk" and "The Lonely Guy" not on VHS, but Beta
C) Play Pitfall! on my old Atari system while downing cans of fudge soda
D) Why are you asking me this question? I'm homeless.

If you picked A, B, or C, rent Nothing In Common. If you picked D, I have no idea how you have access to whatever computer you're using.

The Verdict

It's a hung jury on Nothing In Common. Come back next week and maybe I'll have a decision for you…

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 77
Extras: 25
Acting: 84
Story: 73
Judgment: 71

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Portuguese
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb: The Movie
• IMDb: The Sitcom

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