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Film: Nothing In Common
David Basner

Nothing In Common is a 1986 comedy/drama directed by Garry Marshall and starring Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason (in his final role), Eva Marie Saint, Sela Ward, Barry Corbin and Bess Armstrong.

David Basner (Hanks) is a top-flight ad exec who's doing well in his life - he's got a good chance to land Colonial, a major airline account, and becomes attracted to Cheryl Ann Wayne (Ward), the daughter of Colonial's owner, Andrew Woolridge (Corbin). But his personal life is turned upside down when his father, Max (Gleason) calls one night to tell him David's mother, Lorraine (Saint), has just walked out after 36 years of marriage. David must try to juggle both his career and personal life while trying to help both of his parents out, and trying especially to repair his relationship with his father.

This movie contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts:
    Max: Your best friend is your dick.
    David: Now where did I learn that? Your best friend is *your* dick!
    Max: Great, maybe the four of us can get together and have lunch.
  • As the Good Book Says: Charlie doesn't quote anything specific from The Bible, but when he tries to make David feel better by telling him about his own troubles with his father (Charlie put his father in a nursing home because he was starting to go senile, and at the end, his father didn't even recognize Charlie), and David says he thought Charlie was the perfect son, Charlie gently replies, "They told me there was only one of those guys."
  • Calling the Old Man Out: David does this to Max after Lorraine reveals just how badly Max treated her during their marriage.
  • Chicago: The movie takes place in Chicago and its suburbs.
  • Counting to Ten: When David tries telling Woolridge he can't be at the final presentation because Max will be in surgery, Woolridge threatens David by telling him he's giving him until the count of ten to change his mind. David does not take this well, screaming "TEN!!!!!" when Woolridge gets to it. (See Precision F-Strike below).
  • Deadpan Snarker: David fits this trope pretty well, and Donna and Max also qualify. Cheryl Ann, who is otherwise Sarcasm-Blind, even has one moment of this near the end as well, which astonishes David.
  • Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: As David and the stewardess are having sex, the plane they're in (see Mile-High Club below) runs into some turbulence; predictably, David says a variation of this line.
  • Dodgy Toupee: A Running Gag throughout the movie is the series of these that Charlie, David's boss, wears, until he finally decides to go with his natural bald look.
    Lorraine: (after Charlie runs off because he's uncomfortable with Lorraine staring at him) That rug is the *worst*! Do you think he realizes it?
    David: He does now.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At Woolridge's stable, a colt and a foal are shown mating together while David and Cheryl stare at each other.
  • Expy: Max is highly reminiscent of Willy Loman.
  • First Girl Wins: Strongly implied at the ending. However, Donna at the film's end is moving to Detroit, while David remains in Chicago.
  • Follow the Leader: Memories Of Me, with Billy Crystal and Alan King in the Hanks / Gleason roles.
  • Funny Answering Machine: David has funny messages all the time; when Max calls to tell him about Lorraine leaving, David's message is him advertising for a voice-over actor for his latest commercial, and when Woolridge calls to arrange a meeting, David pretends he can't hear him, until finally revealing it's a message.
  • Hard Work Montage: A particularly effective one of David and his team trying to think of an ad campaign for Colonial, linked together by shots of David playing his drumsticks.
    • Though "hard work" is relative:
      Mishi: (pretending to be a plane) So board me, and feel the experience. Fly Colonial Airlines.
      David: You're an airplane?
      Mishi: Yeah.
      David: Anyone want to board Mishi?
  • Heroic BSOD: David has one of these during the shooting of the commercial (the day after his big fight with Max), until Roger, the director, calms him down.
  • Just for Pun: Donna chides David for not showing up at her experimental theater show; David counters he was trying to conduct an experiment of seeing if he could enjoy the show without actually going.
  • Man Child: Justified and deconstructed. David is goofy and childish because in advertising, it's required. The film takes a look at what happens when someone like that is forced to grow up a little.
  • Mile-High Club: David has sex with a stewardess on the plane at the beginning of the movie - while in his seat.
    David: (to a disbelieving passenger) I'm a frequent flier; they gave me a bonus.
  • Montage Out: The end credits features the characters with their various Happily Ever Afters.
  • Mood Whiplash: The chief complaint from Roger Ebert and other critics - the comedic and serious stories clashed.
  • No, Except Yes: David does this twice; when he's bed with the stewardess, she asks him if she's involved with someone, and he responds, "No. Yes. Well; does self-involved count?" Later, Cheryl asks if she's coming on too strong to him, and he replies, "No. No. Well, not for a sumo wrestler."
  • No Sense of Humor: Dale. David and the rest of the advertisers always try to make her laugh, unsuccessfully. She later admits to David that it feels strange when he's no longer trying to make her laugh during his Despair Event Horizon.
    Dale: Ms. Wayne wants the...
    David: The copy. I know.
    Dale: You don't make jokes anymore with me anymore, Mr. Basner.
    David: You liked those jokes?
    Dale: ...Yeah.
    David: So did I.
    • Just before the end credits, David is once again up to his old antics. Dale can only Face Palm.
  • Off with His Head!: The fate of Mr. Buzzword.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; there are two maintenance men at the building David works in, both named Manny (naturally, David lampshades this).
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Lorraine's marriage. Her first date after leaving Max suffers from this as well.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Woolridge threatens him to come to the presentation (or he'll lose the account), David has had enough:
    David: Look, I've done the job all right! Take my stuff, do whatever you want to do with it, but for the fifth time now, I'm not going anywhere with anybody, and don't you ever fuckin' touch me again!
  • Production Posse: Hector Elizondo, who has appeared in just about every movie Garry Marshall has ever directed, plays Charlie, David's boss.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Charlie, especially in the Dénouement.
  • Running Gag: In addition to Charlie's Dodgy Toupee, there's also David's attempts throughout the movie to get the secretary at the ad agency to laugh, all of which fail.
    • There's also Max's personalized pens, whom he gives to everyone and anyone after he's been laid off and can't give to clients anymore.
  • Sanity Slippage: David goes completely sideways shooting the airline commercial finding a cat on set.note 
    David: Lose the cat. Roger! Get it out of here! (to Roger) A cat?
    Roger: She could say goodbye to the cat.
    Roger: Yeah.
    David: Let's do one about a grandma...who abandons a cat in winter... so she can romp with her grandkids! We can show the cat trying to CLAW ITS WAY OUT TRYING TO GET FOOD! (on bullhorn) ARE THERE MORE ANIMALS THAT GRANDMA CAN TORTURE?! MAYBE PUT A SQUIRREL IN THE FIRE?!
  • Shout-Out: Early in the movie, Charlie says he hopes David has turned down the offers he's received from other ad agencies; David replies that he turned them down because those agencies wouldn't make him a partner;
    Charlie: (disbelieving) Partner? Boyle, Gargas, Lionel and Basner?
    • Becomes an Ironic Echo later, when Charlie sends David a letter telling him he's free to pursue the airline account, and signs it, "John, Paul, George and Ringo".
    • Also, when David first sees Cheryl Ann and immediately becomes attracted to her, he asks if she knows what time it is (she tells him), and then he quotes a line from Woody Allen's Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask) ("Before you know it, The Renaissance will be here and we'll all be busy painting"). She doesn't get it.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Averted with Max. Adult diabetes can have some gruesome effects when you don't treat it and your dietary habits suck while you smoke cigars.
  • Spin-Off: A brief NBC Sitcom ran in 1987, with the enviable slot after Cheers, but it failed.
  • Spit Take: David does a variant of this when he and Woolridge are out hunting. Woolridge tells David Cheryl speaks highly of him, and adds, "She says you're a great lay," whereupon David accidentally shoots his gun.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When two young kids at the ad agency at the beginning call David "dude", he responds, "That's Mr. Basner to you."
  • Wham Shot: The shot of Max's diabetes-ravaged feet.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Max cheated on Lorraine during their entire marriage.
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