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That Thing You Do! (1996)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Music  |  4 October 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 48,188 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 211 user | 74 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

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



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sol Siler
Troy Chesterfield
Uncle Bob


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

Plot Keywords:

band | pennsylvania | song | jazz | drummer | See All (50) »


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:

$6,208,595 (USA) (4 October 1996)


ITL 187,396,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The four actors playing The Wonders rehearsed as a band for eight weeks to get the feel of performing - but most of their performances in the film were dubbed by other musicians. See more »


The design on the Illinois state flag during "Dance With Me Tonight" is from 1969. See more »


Mr. White: It is very important that you don't stink today.
Lenny Haise: Hey, I make no guarantees.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Soundtrack released on the fictional Play-tone records. See more »


Referenced in Big Wolf on Campus: That Swamp Thing You Do! (1999) See more »


Mr. Downtown
Written by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Mike Piccirillo
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A great little film with cult movie ambitions
1 April 2004 | by (Virginia) – See all my reviews

"That Thing You Do!" is a perfect film about a group of guys in the mid-1960's inspired by Thelonius Monk-type jazz and Beatles-esque pop music. With one hit single, they are catapulted to clean-shaven, teen idol stardom. The band "The Wonders" could easily have been the 60's pop group "The Turtles" or "The Beau Brummels." The film's plot is fairly simple, yet it doesn't veer off into the typical VH1 Behind The Music avenue of excessive sex and drugs. Matter of fact, they aren't even mentioned. Written, directed and starring Tom Hanks, "That Thing You Do!" is honest and easily palitable for younger audiences. It rarely strays away from its theme: The climax and downward slope of musical fame. Viewers can also appreciate several 60's pop culture bones, thrown by Hanks himself to a nostalgic audience of youngsters such as myself. Plot occassionally gives way to hype and music, but that's okay. I was sort of looking for that. I really appreciated the "The Wonders" drummer relationship to "Dell Paxton," a jazz musician that's obviously a Thelonius Monk reference. Check them out jamming together during the third act of the film. Now THAT'S what I call truly remarkable music. The song "that thing you do" could easily have been a number one single in 1965. It's a simple, hook-laden piece of popcorn that's catchy on a near paranormal level. It was written by members of the modern pop/rock group "Fountains of Wayne." One can only wish for more music such as this today. There's enough innocence in it to guarentee parents' wide-eyed approval ... and just a bit of angst to attract the attention of hormone-raging teenagers the world over. Definetly an excellent movie for your shelf ... right next to your DVD copies of "A Hard Day's Night" and "The Beatles Anthology." Also ... check out "The Beau Brummels." Rhino Records has issued a great best-of package. One has to wonder if Tom Hanks had them in mind while writing the script. They had a few hits, though none will be as remembered as the poppy "Laugh, Laugh." A true gem from 1960's rock 'n roll.

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