I’m not going to write a full review, she tells herself. Not even a full rant.
1986: a year I can’t even fathom. The Challenger blows up. Out of Africa wins best picture. Chernobyl is unleashed. Oprah gets on TV. Lady Gaga, Robert Pattinson, Armie Hammer, Kit Harrington, Shia LaBeouf, and the Olsen twins are born. Donna Reed, James Cagney, and Cary Grant die. Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee, and Platoon top the box office. Dionne and Friends’ That’s What Friends Are For and Lionel Richie’s Say You, Say Me race up the top 40 charts. A jar of Skippy peanut butter could be had for $1.49, and a Mustang for $7452.
And Tom Hanks made a super weird movie with Jackie Gleason called Nothing in Common. Now, I thought I’d done a pretty deep dive into Tom Hanks’s catalogue, but I hadn’t seen this, or been aware of it, or been prepared for it, more importantly.
David Basner (Hanx) is a womanizing, successful ad executive whose life gets derailed when his mother (Eva Marie Saint) suddenly leaves his father Max (Gleason). This divorce is totally unexpected and shocking. For Max. And David. Not so much for the long-suffering wife who had a neglectful lout for a husband for 30 years or more. Of course, Max is a typical man of his time: totally and completely useless. He doesn’t know how to grocery shop, much less make a sandwich. Or how to do laundry. Or find which drawer the bills go in. Or prevent himself from getting lazy-boy-induced pressure sores (probably). So poor David has to put his life on hold to act as the go-between between his feuding parents.
And let me tell you, 1986 was a pretty slimy time. Because even goody-two-shoes Tom Hanks comes off pretty badly in this. He thinks his mother should go back just because. And he has to listen to his father call his virginal mother frigid. Garry Marshall’s in the director seat, and makes some very mid-80s decisions regarding music. There’s an EXTEEEENDED opening song. Whew boy, I’ve never been in a 30 year marriage but I almost felt like I had by the time the opening credits shut the fuck up. I can’t even tell if I liked this movie – it’s hard to tell ANYTHING when 1986 is punching you repeatedly in the face. And I have a worrisome feeling that this movie could be the story of my own grandparents’ mid-80s divorce, if they weren’t good catholics who believe that god wants them to be miserable in an adversarial marriage for 60 odd years before they die (67 years and counting!), although if my mother is the Tom Hanks in this scenario, she’ll die long before they do because they are driving her to an early grave, and not slowly either! Having old, cantankerous parents is fun, I’m told. Loads and loads of wildly xenophobic fun.
Tom Hanks is charming, but this movie is not so much the fun. But hey, at least Chernobyl can sleep a little better knowing it wasn’t the worst thing to happen to 1986.