This is the first movie where Tom Hanks really began to show his depth. It was a film that required him to open with the comedic chops he's honed so well but then, because of the deepening of the film's story from comedy to drama, requested so much more of him. He ultimately delivers in spades.
This is really a story about a son moving very fast in the fast lane of advertising. He's a pro and he loves what he does. He's also a personality that lives on charm and in the moment. But when his parents separate after years of marriage, his life changes rapidly from no personal responsibilities to a multitude of them. It's also begs a question that rarely gets told well- how do sons and daughters deal with parents as life turns the tables and we suddenly start having to deal with listening to and taking care of them? The changing of roles and responsibilities. As the film unfolds, it presents those concerns with proper weight, depth, sadness, growth and understanding.
Gary Marshall directed the film prior to his mega hit with Pretty Woman but I really think this is the better film of the two. He draws the best from Jackie Gleason, Eva Marie Saint and Beth Armstrong and Hector Alonzo- each lending a real ensemble cast feeling to the piece and although Tom Hanks shines- so do they.
Jackie Gleason deserves special mention because he really plays a rather hard, sad man at the end of the road as a clothing salesman, and he digs deep, never lending anything false to how this man thinks, feels and operates. The exchanges between him and Hanks about how he was raised lend a real truth to the role.
If you're looking for a film that has some humor and some depth of feeling in the same breath, this is an interesting evening's viewing.
An underrated film that deserves a second look and a larger audience.