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As a child of the 60s and a musician, I loved this movie from the first few minutes of it. The sets, the clothes, the music, and everything down to the small details is represented here to give a true feel for what the early to mid sixties were like, minus the politics and Vietnam. Before radio music became a commercially diluted and corporate industry there were "garage-bands" galore and many of the little-remembered names of the genre started out as such. The Wonders in "That Thing You Do!" could easily be a number of bands that were a one-hit-wonder (or two or three) and then just disappeared from the scene. Nevertheless, they all helped shape some of the best music of that era, and Tom Hanks perfectly represents that phenomena in this movie. If you remember the early 60's fondly, you should truly enjoy this film and it will probably bring back fond memories. The depiction of Erie, PA during this time-frame is probably representative of many small to medium size American towns and certainly brought back great memories for me of better times gone by. The music rocks, the dialog is hip, and the love story rounds it out perfectly. Buy this movie and then buy the CD soundtrack; you won't be sorry! (**TRIVIA: another Tom Hanks produced movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", has a "That Thing You Do!" song played during the wedding reception - do you know which one?**)
THAT THING YOU DO
Unless you were there. Unless you were of that age, that time and particularly if you were a male and trying to force your grimy little fingers into a "C" chord on a Harmony acoustic guitar that was semi in tune well, you will not understand the depth that this movie has. This movie and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" capture something that was so real, so tangible but has slipped so completely away from any succeeding generations grasp that to try and film it's time and moment seems impossible. And yet, Tom Hanks did it. I don't know how he managed to grasp the era and the people so well as I thought he was a little too young for that time period. He nails this every boy's fantasy with wit, wisdom and just a touch of sadness. The cast turns in, a spot on encapsulation of people that will be very familiar to any struggling band member from the period. Tom Hanks himself turns in a solid performance as a man apart of, yet removed from the music itself. Men of his age at that time all actually read the Playboy philosophy espoused by Hugh Hefner and secretly wanted to be as cool as one of the Rat Pack. He did a super job of directing this effort and keeping the frenetic pace. All of this brings us to the music, which for the most part is expertly crafted (and I was surprised to see Hanks wrote some of the music also) to remind us of the era. I enjoyed all the songs for what they are. It is "homage" which is not exactly copying but using the elements to pay tribute to the influences that shaped the music of that era. People who grew up in the 80's or 90's have no conception of what the music was like then. They can hear it, and yes even appreciate it, but they don't understand that it was rarely on TV, it was not the background music for every commercial you heard or saw and radio stations that played it were decidedly looked down upon. It was not woven into the fabric of life like it is now. It was new, it was dangerous and you had to search it out. You had to want it. That's why I so enjoyed this movie. Even with some of it's false steps and it's occasional heavy handedness that would over power the subtleties of real life I found this movie a guilty pleasure that is completely satisfying and an absolute joy to watch.
I just finished watching this again tonight and am still impressed by the little details that Hanks gets right such as the period guitars and amps (loved seeing those blond Fender Bassman amps), awful PA systems and other musical trappings of the period. The music is infectious (I liked the song they played in Wisconsin that Lenny sang - can't think of the title) and there's a lot in there that I still remember about having a garage band back in that era. There's just so much right about this movie that I'd recommend it to anyone. Another impressive score for do-it-all Hanks.
I've been seeing this movie on cable for several years...all the way
through a couple times, but pieces many times. It seems like I can't
pass it up when I'm flipping channels. And it happened again today, but
to my surprise, it was a different, longer movie. I don't recall the
original running time, but today's version must be 30 minutes or so
longer than the one I've been seeing for years. At 2:35, it should have
been too long, but it didn't seem like it.
Lots of times the director's cut is just a reattachment of footage from the cutting room floor, and sometimes it is footage that should have been left there. I can think of a few exceptions: Jacob's Ladder is one. Aliens is another. And as it turns out, That Thing You Do is still another. The extra scenes, which were cleverly edited out of the short version, add a great deal to the story. They help to fill out the characters and explain attitudes.
Some of the add-backs were no more than a few seconds, but those few seconds--like the cut to the "cootie" DJ playing the record after hearing it live--were like the end of a sentence. They made the first part make sense. Others, like the group nervous and suspicious about their new manager not coming through with with air play of their record, are doubtless part of the garage band routine. And more screen time for Liv Tyler can only be good.
All in all, I have to say the re-edit made it a better movie, at least for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film, while obviously not a major work of art, is more than a
Beatles biopic or a time piece for the mid-60's. Its sheer energy, the
ease with which we can relate with the characters (even for those of us
who have ever played in a band), the beauty of Liv Tyler and the
natural flow of music bring it to a highly enjoyable level.
Most of all, what makes it interesting is the quite subtle way it handles the themes of hope and disillusion: Guy's hopes for a session in a studio, Lenny's hopes of stardom, Faye's hopes of everlasting love. But as characters shake away their illusions, they are not left bitter or empty: on the contrary, this film shows that to work through this (and it is clearly a piece of work) enables them to build stronger and truer desires.
Despite its agreeable lightness, this film can thus be seen as a moral fable going somewhat deeper than the classic 'from success to failure' story. The acting and reproduction of 60's sets are flawless throughout. And two moments of the film strike me as unforgettable, which is more than you can say for many movies:
When the Oneders's tune goes on the radio for the first time, Hanks films first of all the bass player trying to adjust to the right channel, then Faye losing it as she hears it in the street as well. They both meet and go berserk with joy, running and shouting in an exhilarating - thanks to the youthful grace of Liv Tyler - moment, ending up in Guy's store where everybody just dances madly with joy. Rarely has a moment of accomplishment and sheer happiness been captured with such apparent spontaneity on film.
Finally, Hanks delivers one of the most devastating lines I've heard, when he answers the egoistic lead singer after his breakup with Faye.
Jimmy: I should have dumped you in Pittsburgh! Which one of you butts said we were engaged?
Hanks: Same one who said you had class, Jimmy.
That's what you get, and deserve, from 'dumping' Liv Tyler - poor move if I ever saw one!
That Thing You Do! (1996): There are so many great things about this film that it's impossible to single out just one. The script, the acting, the characters...to paraphrase that old car commercial, who could ask for anything more? Oh, and throw in some pretty darn addictive music to boot. Add everything together, stir well and the result is a terrific directorial debut for Tom Hanks. "That Thing You Do!" tells the tale of a (fictitious) band, The Wonders, who literally become an overnight sensation after winning a talent competition and soon find themselves experiencing the highs not to mention the lows of becoming rock stars. The band members Guy (Tom Everett Scott), Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), Lenny (Steve Zahn), and the unnamed bass player (Ethan Embry) are perfectly cast, as are supporting characters such as Jimmy's girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler), Guy's brusque father (Holmes Osborne), mattress tycoon Boss Vic Koss (Kevin Pollak), down-on-his-luck drummer Chad (Giovanni Ribisi), jazz great Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs), with the best being Lamarr the hotel doorman (Obba Babatunde). Despite Hanks' considerably large amount of screen time as the band's manager, his role is restrained enough so as not to overshadow the film's young players. The acting is superbly enhanced by the terrific script; the dialogue is razor-sharp and at times very humorous, with the funniest moments involving the conception of the band's name (spelled "The One-ders" early on as a gag on the Beatles, it's constantly mispronounced as "The O-neders" before finally being changed to the literal spelling). Nothing ever resorts to condescension, explicit language or sensuality, or forced comedy. You can't help but share in the Wonders' ecstasy when they hear their single on the radio for the first time. The title song never gets boring even though it's played a grand total of 11 times (yet only twice in its entirety). The production design is outstanding, especially Guy's father's appliance store (where did they find all those gadgets?). TTYD is recommended viewing for any budding rock band, or simply for those who want to travel back to a time when music wasn't polluted with countless no-talent, assembly-line boy bands, misogynist rappers, and the like. Finally, we have a feel-good movie that actually lives up to that otherwise overused title. 9/10
My guess is that Tom Hanks is a really nice guy. He certainly seems like it
when he's interviewed, and since he wrote and directed this movie, and it's
really nice, too, that seems to be more evidence.
This is a very small movie. It has no pretensions, but just tells a simple story about a small-town band that makes good. It paints a nostalgic picture of the 60's -- I grew up in a small town during that time, and life wasn't so idyllic in my town -- but it isn't trying for gritty realism. The cast is attractive and more than adequate (some are quite good, including Hanks as the band's manager), and the story is observant enough to be an enjoyable confection. It's very nice family movie (my kids liked it, and so did I).
I find myself mesmerized by this film. I identify with its characters
because either I had friends who had similar situations (playing in a local
rock band, trying to make good), or I myself went through some of the same
"growing pains" of adolescence, such as parental upset, and the joy and
sorrow of a first love.
The songs (especially the title tune) are catchy, yet simple, and at times annoying (due to overplay), but, hey, that's the way rock 'n' roll was at the beginning of the "British invasion". At least they have a good beat and are easy to dance to!!
Baby-boomers will appreciate how Tom Hanks catches the true flavor and feel of the era. The young actors showed their capabilities by getting the personalities of their characters down just right. You'd think they actually lived through the early 60's themselves. It's sort of an "American Graffiti" with a different set of teens.
Watch for a cameo by Peter Scolari, who, on TV, was Hank's co-star in "Bosom Buddies".
First things first, i have to hand it to Tom Hanks. The man can direct
and act. "That Thing You Do" is a movie with no antagonist, no good
guys and yet it's a great movie. It follows the story of the Wonders, a
band Eerie, Pennsylvania who make it big with their hit single, "That
Thing You Do!" They are then picked up by a major record company and
are headed off on tour. The rest of the film follows the relationships
that blossom and wilt within the band as they climb the ladder of
This is a sweet and innocent movie with no other intentions than to tell a story. Which in my opinion is the way a movie should be done. "That Thing You Do" gets an A.
My family and I used to watch this movie all the time while I was
growing up so I may be a little biased here. Even so, I think it's one
of the best comedies ever and I quote the lines very often. It really
is great to revisit this film and remember when I was a little kid
sitting on the couch watching it with my family. I was able to revisit
it this weekend.
I really feel that all of the characters are very well thought out, essential parts of any band and very well portrayed by all of the actors. Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry are all great. The story itself is the best part of this film and really says a lot about being in a band. "Ain't no way to keep a band together, bands come and go. You gotta keep on playin', no matter with who."
This movie is great. I recommend it for the whole family and definitely if you are or have been in a band. You'll love it!
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