Nothing in common movie poster

Theatrical release poster

Nothing in Common is a 1986 comedy-drama film starring Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason (in his final film role), Eva Marie Saint, Hector Elizondo, Barry Corbin and Bess Armstrong. The film was written by Rick Podell and Michael Preminger and was directed by Garry Marshall.


David Basner (Tom Hanks), a happy-go-lucky Chicago based TV advertiser is excited about getting a promotion for his job. However, his excitement is tempered after he receives a phone call from his bitter father, Max (Jackie Gleason) who informs him that he and his wife, Lorraine (Eva Marie Saint) had recently gotten a divorce after being married for 36 years and David decides to put his job as an advertiser on hold to look after Max and Lorraine, which leaves him feeling depressed and overwhelmed.

To relieve the stress of putting his job on hold, David decides to take Max out to a nightclub to have fun together. While Max dances to the jazzy music, one of his slippers slides off and David discovers that several of Max's toes are purple, which indicates that Max has diabetes. David drops by Lorraine's place and tells her about Max's diabetes and she states that Max had diabetes for a long time and had kept it a secret for many years, because he was embarrassed to talk about being sick with diabetes. David also finds out from Lorraine that Max cheated on her as well.

David takes Max to the hospital to get treatment for his diabetes and Max rebels against hospital treatment. Later that night, Lorraine drops by to check on Max to see how he’s doing and he tells her that he’s okay and offers her a cookie. Then, he gets grumpy again and Lorraine leaves the hospital in tears. After she leaves, Max feels sad and alone in his dark hospital room and cries in remorse after realizing how awful he was to various people, even Lorraine and David. David comes back the next day to check Max out of the hospital. After Max is released from the hospital, he thanks David by telling him, "You were the last person I ever thought would come through for me." David gets his job back and Max is impressed at what David does for a living.

Why It Rocks

  1. This film made Tom Hanks become more recognizable after he did Splash, among many other films that were released in the 1980s before this one.
  2. There are many amusing moments, probably the most amusing moment is when David throws pencils on the ceiling and holds drum sticks in his mouth to make them look like walrus teeth.
  3. Aside from the comedic scenes in the film, the dramatic scenes work well too.
  4. The film was well written.
  5. Garry Marshall did a good job directing the film.
  6. Dan Castellaneta has a cameo appearance in this film as one of the employees before he became famous for The Simpsons.
  7. There are good songs in the film including "Loving Strangers" by Christopher Cross and "Nothing In Common" by The Thompson Twins.
  8. In some scenes, Max is nice to people (eg. When he thanks David and says “you’re welcome!” to a person who thanks him) and is even nice to a child.
  9. When Lorraine visits Max in the hospital, he's nice to her by offering her a cookie.
  10. Max shows remorse when he cries quietly in the hospital after being rude to Lorraine and everyone else he encountered (mentioned in plot).
  11. David shows emotion for Max after his gangrened toe surgery.
  12. Max thanks David for helping him out and tells him "You were the last person I ever thought would come through for me."
  13. A happy ending where David gets to show Max what he does for a living and decides that Max is a somewhat decent father, with Max being pleased that David has an exciting and interesting job.
  14. The dramatic scenes are touching, especially during the closing scenes with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason.
  15. The film was a good way to end the career of Jackie Gleason before his retirement and subsequent death the following year.

Bad Qualities

  1. Jackie Gleason was diagnosed with a variety of illnesses in real life including diabetes (mentioned below as well) while this film was being made. A year later in 1987, Gleason died after a battle with terminal colon cancer.
  2. On the back of the VHS and DVD cover, there are numerous printing errors. The explanation about the film states that the film was a big hit while it was a moderate success film and it states that David's parents were married for 35 years while in the film it was stated that his parents were married for 36 years.
  3. There are a few plotholes in the film.
  4. The characters can sometimes be unlikable in certain scenes.


The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences and currently holds a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 5.9 out of 10, but doesn't have a critic consensus yet. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a 2.5 out of a possible 4 and stated "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. The best ones are often more like short stories, able to introduce a handful of characters and follow them through a few of their days." Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune awarded the film a 3 out of 4 stars and stated in his review "It`s both a comedy and a melodrama; the comedy works better."

Box Office

The film had a budget of $12 million and made $32,324,557 at the box office. While the film wasn't a big hit, the film did make Tom Hanks become more recognizable and it made his career skyrocket. Despite the mixed reviews about the film, critics and audiences praised Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason for their performances in the film.


  • Jackie Gleason had diabetes in real life while starring in the film and stated to his daughter, "I won't be around much longer." Gleason was also diagnosed with colon cancer, liver cancer, haemorrhoids, was a longtime smoker, alcoholic and had issues with obesity.
  • The film spawned a short lived TV series titled Nothing In Common, created by Garry Marshall with Todd Waring as David Basner and Bill Macy as Max Basner. The show only had seven episodes air on television and was cancelled shortly thereafter.


Nothing in Common (1986) - Trailer

Nothing in Common (1986) - Trailer

Theatrical release trailer

External links