Professionalism is both Nothing in Common's greatest strength and its greatest limitation. It's a very finely crafted piece, a product of hard work and careful consideration, yet nothing breaks through the craft--there's no personal drive to it.
Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks team entertainingly in Nothing in Common, a sugar-coated variation on "Death of a Salesman." It proves an uncommonly funny drama, its painful truths brightened by Hanks' clowning glory and Gleason's glowering deadpan. [1 Aug 1986, p.25]
It's refreshing to find a comedy that deals with such resonant material. True, there's nothing profound in the screenplay by Rick Podell and Michael Preminger, and director Garry Marshall wraps most of the emotions in bundles as tidy as a Thursday-night sitcom. But the story has serious things on its mind, relating to intimate areas of family life and sexuality. [30 July 1986, p.21]
I realize that Nothing in Common wants to surprise us by inserting tragedy in the midst of laughter, but the problem is, the serious parts of this movie are so much more interesting than the lightweight parts that the whole project gets out of balance.
As long as the story stays with David's wooing of the big Colonial Airlines account and the company president's tough-minded daughter (Sela Ward), a good time is to be had. But in the last half-hour, everybody starts to slobber.