In the opening moments of 'Nothing in Common,' we see a wisecracking, smart-alecky Tom Hanks making his rounds through the offices of an ad agency where he works. A confident, self-assured ad man on his first day back from vacation, and in his first day as new creative director, Hanks's David is a terrifically likable guy and obviously very much loved by everyone at his company. Even his boss (Hector Elizondo), who keeps modeling different toupees in most every scene we see him, really enjoys his company. Our initial introduction to David has him fooling around with a flight attendant, signaling that women, too, can't resist his seductive charms.
We get it. There's no challenge too big for David. The guy is a success in life because he knows how to talk his way into things and make everyone feel good about it. He's the sort of person many of us would probably hate to know in real life, full of energy and a positive attitude. But like David, Hanks knows how to sell charming, endearing guys like this. It's almost uncanny, in fact, how he does it. Sometimes, it's a bit overboard and comes across as pushy ('The Terminal'), but in general, he can make even loudmouth, drunkards fun to be around ('A League of Their Own'). And David is really a likeable person, one of Hanks's early roles demonstrating his talent for creating believable characters and carry a film's more serious, dramatic elements flawlessly.
'Nothing in Common' basically marks Hanks's road to becoming a major star and future Academy Award winner. Only, it's unfortunate that such a performance is wasted in this mediocre and ultimately boring 1986 dramedy, where two seemingly separate stories eventually intersect and crash into each other. The first shows a man thriving in the highly-competitive business of advertising as he tries to land his biggest account yet and strikes a relationship with a woman (Sela Ward) very similar to himself. The other half has David dealing with his parents' divorce, comforting and mostly siding with his mother (Eva Marie Saint) but struggling to sympathize with a distant father (Jackie Gleason).
Directed by Gary Marshall (as if the Hector Elizondo appearance wasn't enough of a tip-off), who's made some memorable comedies ('Pretty Woman') as well as some terribly forgettable ones ('Valentine's Day,' 'New Year's Eve'), the movie starts off decently with a comedy angle, even as family problems arise and threaten to interfere with David's life. But the transition into seriousness is an unwieldy experience, practically abandoning all humor for a dreadfully sappy slant. Part of the problem comes from Marshall's dull workmanlike approach to the plot, which makes audiences listlessly wait for this inevitable crash between David and his parents' woes. The jokes keep us invested for the most part, but by the time we finally see the toll upon David's life, we've already lost interest.
Aside fom Hanks, 'Nothing in Common' features another great performance by way of the legendary Jackie Gleason, which sadly turned out to be his last. He passed away nearly one year later after the movie's release. Despite its drawbacks, the film at least shows what an amazing actor Gleason was, giving an unlikable father-figure emotional magnitude and exposing a bitter man resentful of how his life turned out. The forgettable dramedy comes with good moments like Gleason and Hanks — or the touching conversation between Gleason and Eva Marie Saint in a hospital room. But it ultimately fails because it takes too long to see how these lives intersect, making the film's title serve as forewarning to viewers.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'Nothing in Common' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc inside a blue eco-vortex case. Viewers are taken straight to the main menu with music and full-motion clips at startup.
'Nothing in Common' finds its way to Blu-ray with a fairly good AVC-encoded transfer. It still remains very much a product of its time with many scenes looking a bit blurrier than the rest, but overall, the 1.85:1-framed picture is clean of artifacts with strong fine object detailing throughout. Exterior shots are best with sharp contrast and great visibility in the distance, while interiors with poor lighting lose some resolution and show slightly better-than-average shadow delineation. Black levels are pretty stable and appear accurate, particularly at night, but the image lacks any pop and depth. A layer of grain is visible and stable, preserving a good film-like quality. Colors are cleanly rendered and bold, with reds and greens making the biggest impression.
Being a character-driven dramedy from the 80s, one shouldn't expect much from this uncompressed PCM mono soundtrack. It does its job dutifully, delivering dialogue and emotionally-charged conversations with aplomb. The issue is with a lossless mix that seems rather lifeless and lacks any sense of space or presence. Several scenes take place within busy areas with lots of background activity on screen, but none of it is ever heard. The one and only channel has no range or show any commotion. The streets full of traffic are all but silent; crowded bars seem near empty; and offices with lots of people working are practically tiptoeing. Of course, this could all be the result of the production design or the source used rather than a fault of the codec. But whatever the reason, it makes for a boring and uninteresting audio presentation at home.
'Nothing in Common' arrives on Blu-ray in a bare-bones package.
Despite starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in his final on-screen performance, there is good reason why 'Nothing in Common' is today long forgotten. The 1986 dramedy is simply not that good, although it features excellent performances by its two stars. The story takes too long to get things going and Garry Marshall's directing is terribly workmanlike. The Blu-ray comes with good picture quality, but the lossless audio is a drab presentation. This latest release also arrives without a single supplement, making the overall package a rental at best.