Recounts a fable of a pop rock band formed a year after the Beatles took America by storm in early 1964. Jazz aficionado Guy Patterson, unhappily toiling in the family appliance store, is recruited into the band the Oneders (later renamed the Wonders) after regular drummer Chad breaks his arm. After Guy injects a four/four rock beat into lead singer Jimmy's ballad, the song's undeniable pop power flings the Wonders into a brief whirlwind of success, telling the tale of many American bands who attempted to grab the brass ring of rock and roll in the wake of the British Invasion. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
A Hoot; comes very, very close to being a great movie
I didn't see That Thing You Do (TTYD) when it came out, and it's too bad. This movie will--strange to think--rank up there with "Stop Making Sense" as a classic concert film. Interesting that 1) they're not really comparable, since SMS is real concert footage and TTYD is a mockumentary, and 2) Jonathon Demme is in TTYD!
Is this a timeless movie? Close. Darn close. What's great? Actually--almost enlightening--Hanks' writing is really quite wonderful. The dialog is almost a rare example of direct, effective, "connecting" film writing. The casting, directing, and acting is great. The editing is very effective. The sets, costumes, general "look" is a delight. The music is very, very effective. So much subtle craftsmanship goes into stuff at the right levels of detail, that you might accuse the film of failing to be like a genuine "rock 'n' roll experience" because it's almost too crafty. But I think they pull it off.
What's wrong with the movie? Not much. The ending flags a little. The pre-credits posting of thumbnail future bios of the characters is a cheap device; but again I think it doesn't eclipse the power of the mythic payload (the moral) which ultimately has to do with the power of love. And I don't say that in a wishy-washy sense. What is love? According to this movie, it's that multi-dimensional experience which includes not just finding "that special someone," but also finding your path. It reminds me of an exchange I had with a work buddy who hoped to write "that big hit tune" and retire early. I loaned him a record by Fred Frith, which put him off entirely. "This guy won't ever get anywhere," he said. But I patiently explained that he (my friend) and I get up in the morning and go to our corporate jobs. This guy (Frith) gets up and goes to the studio. Who's the success? That's a big life lesson, and I think this movie nuances that very effectively. It can even translate to any of life's pursuits, not just music.
I found myself being continuously delighted by this film. At the risk of sounding like a green ass, I want to plug this film's attention to a time-honored aesthetic virtue: Hard work. This film is a labor of love, with equal attention to the inspiration AND perspiration.
I can't believe how much I like this movie! I feel like a bobbysoxer saying it! I resonated with this movie on many points. Let me give you one example. I was in a little band once and was something of the "muse" of that band. Something I always marveled at was how "the creative process" people talk about is actually a very simple and practical reality when you're actually being creative. One of the sweet, simple high points of working up a number is the act of picking the tempo. If you've ever done this, you know what I'm talking about. Picking the tempo is a profoundly rewarding act, and of course that's just one small aspect of the process. So the scene near the beginning of the flick where the drummer overrules Jimmy and establishes an uptempo beat to what was supposed to be a ballad is a profoundly resonant moment for me. And the direction and editing bring together an almost perfect picture of the very real and profound joy that this brings to people.
There were many, many moments in this movie that affected me in much the same way. If you haven't seen it and you love "concert films," check it out.
(NOTE: I wrote a little "trip guide" to TTYD!, which can be found at: http://www.ronazajac.com/That_Thing_You_Do_Comments.pdf . Hope you find it useful. -raz)
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