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That Thing You Do! (1996)

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A local Pennsylvania band scores a one hit wonder in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as they can, with lots of help from its manager.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sol Siler
Troy Chesterfield


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 <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In every life there comes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.


Comedy | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

¡Eso que tú haces!  »


Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,208,595, 6 October 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$25,809,813, 24 January 1997

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,585,416, 26 January 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


| (Director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the Hollywood Television Showcase, Bryan Cranston plays NASA astronaut Gus Grissom. He would later play astronaut Buzz Aldrin in HBO's From the Earth to the Moon (1998), Executively Produced by Tom Hanks. See more »


When Uncle Bob is recording the Wonders, the sound and the visual of the hand claps are out of sync. See more »


Mr. White: You know, Horace was right about you, Guy; you are the smart one. Lenny is the fool, Jimmy is the... talent, and Faye is... well, now, Faye is special, isn't she? And you are the smart one. That's what I think, anyway.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Mickey Mouse is listed as "Himself" See more »


References Lolita (1962) See more »


Back Together
Written by Adam Schlesinger
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Hoot; comes very, very close to being a great movie
24 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

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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