I recall two films from the '80s that dealt with the relationship between an aging father and an adult son. Both featured hot comedic actors of the day as the sons and comedy legends as the dads. Nothing in Common starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason, in what would be his final film, hit screens in the summer of '86. A little more than two years later, Billy Crystal and Alan King shared Memories of Me, which has much in common with Nothing in Common and is out on Blu-ray in time for Christmas.
I enjoyed both these films when they came out on the big screen and have enjoyed each several times since. Interestingly though, was that my memories of Memories of Me were not as the film is described in the press release announcing the availability of the film on Blu-ray. Perhaps it’s me. In reading: “Billy Crystal (City Slickers) and Alan King (Casino) will keep you in stitches in director Henry Winkler's heartwarming comedy about a feuding father and son who discover that love is a family trait.” or that the “efforts at reconciliation lead to hilarious consequences.”
I do indeed recall a heartwarming film, but “stitches”? “Hilarious consequences”? It was with great curiosity that I peeled open my new Blu-ray to see if my memories of Memories of Me have somehow left out some hilarity. Nope. My memory is intact. In the case of Memories of Me, that is a good thing. This is a wonderful little film that didn’t have to play the “hilarious consequences” card. Alan King and Billy Crystal are far more than clowns. They are talented comedic actors who are given the opportunity to stretch their dramatic muscles by a director who wasn’t afraid to let his horses run. Unfortunately, the track that is this script made for too short a race.
After having a heart attack, Abbie (Crystal) comes to California to visit his father Abe (King) in hopes of building what was once a dysfunctional relationship and now non-existent. Though a bit underutilized, JoBeth Williams comes along for the ride as the on-again, off-again love interest of Abbie, and adds some nice moments. Ultimately, nice moments is what this film is about. We get a look into the career of Abe as an extra in Hollywood and the vulnerability of Abbie, but the script doesn’t go deep enough on any front.
Not much in the way of bonus material, but the “Behind the Scenes” featurette does a good job of letting the audience in on what it must have been like to work with these amazing icons.
Ultimately, Nothing in Common is a superior film in that it tells a more well-rounded story with a deeper exploration of the characters. The performances in Memories of Me are excellent, but the actors were not given enough to work with.
Recommendation: Get both films and settle in for a fun night of '80s adult angst for a change and then come back and tell me what you thought. You’ll never go wrong having Nothing in Common and Memories of Me in your library.