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The film is undoubtedly well made, with all the advantages of a decent budget and a talented, and often experienced personnel; it looks good and the portrayal of the early 60's media circus is interesting, but the story and characters are pretty formulaic and predictable, with conventions such as the cheeky, funny one who chases after women (original role model Harpo Marx?), the happy, wisecracking black doorman and the really cool veteran musician... I wont say what's predictable about their respective contributions to the narrative, because I suppose that would count as a spoiler, but if you've seen a few biopics, romantic comedies or Disney takes on how nice the world is, you'll be able to work it out for yourselves! After all, I don't want to be a politically correct kill-joy, and I understand that not all films have to make reference to interesting historical/social ironies, but to show two happy black stereotypes without a nod to the inequality of the values of the record company majors of the time seems glossy to a fault. There were elements of American Graffiti peeping through the characterisations, I suppose, but this film, whilst having comparable style, lacks substance, like a meringue.
The humble beginnings,meteoric rise and equally quick descent of a band
of average,perceivably clean-cut kids from semi-rural Pennsylvania is
the entire premise behind this movie,which boasts the movie directorial
debut of Tom HAnks(his only film directorial job to date). While I
cannot claim this a wonderful,masterful film,it was certainly good
enough for me to give it multiple viewings.
The central hero is Guy Paterson(Tom Everett Scott,congenial and average and thus perfect for the role),a JAzz-loving drummer who works in his dad's appliance store. HE is the central architect of the band "THe ONe-ders"(And there's plenty of pronunciation goofs awaiting that!),which latch onto the burgeoning rock scene with a few popular tracks that get local airplay. When the band,consisting of guitarists Lenny(Steve ZAhn,never out of a job),T.B.(Ethan Embry)and lead singer Jimmy(JOnathan Schaech) get spotted by an enigmatic-yet-paternal music representative named White(HAnks,at full ease),their star progressively rises to the point where their demand goes national and their egos grow in separate ways. IN the mix are the lead singer's sensitive and naive girlfriend(Liv Tyler)and the spoiled Barbie-doll hanger-on(CHarlize Theron,who almost slips through the cracks of this film).Of course,the lead singer being an egotistical ass and Guy being a sensitive,recessive fellow,the budding romance is as predictable as the weather.
HAnks' sympathy for the era as screenwriter and director,goes a long way to making this easy to watch. Ditto the casting of then mostly unknown younger actors to fill out the major roles. There is the perfect balance of bright,wide-eyed optimism of youngster wanting to be the next big thing in rock 'n roll and the reality of the business that makes this film neither sugary or cynical. I could nitpick as to elements that made this movie imperfect,but I'd just as soon not,since this movie has such a friendly,unique quality that I'd feel remiss in picking on it. While you need not be either an aficionado of 1960s rock and/or be from that era,it certainly wouldn't hurt in order to enjoy this movie. Or at the very least,this should appeal to the sentimentalist in anyone.
One hit wonders are always common in music. The cause of that, not enough ideas, next song doesn't click, strife in the business, stress of traveling, etc. You name it, it's there. "That Thing That You Do!" is a marvel of a movie about a fictional boy band in the 1960's who get their big break with the help of a determined manager named Mr. White(Tom Hanks). They are know to the U.S. as The Wonders(Oneders) The band get their show on the road when Guy Patterson(Tom Everett Scott) becomes the new drummer after the original breaks his arm. They go places to perform, and Guy meets jazz drummer Del Paxton(Bill Cobbs) who warns him about bands and success. He did take heed. After the performance of a variety show, the band starts to suffer. Egos clash, and head-butting with other members split the band. Some of the members form a new band, Guy and Del start to make music of a different tone, choosing Jazz over Rock-n Roll. What started with a band, ended with a new opportunity. Hanks did a great job making this movie, Liv Tyler did a spectacular performance playing Faye Dolan. She was important to Guy, and Lamarr(Obba Babatunde) was a very resourceful and wise bellhop. Don't forget Tom Hank's "Bossom Buddies" co-star Peter Scolari. Great movie, what more could I say? 4 out of 5 stars!
This is a hugely entertaining movie that was overlooked during its
theatrical release, but now seems to have a great following. And why
not, the all-American story of a 60's garage band "success"! As a '64
HS grad (please don't do the math!), I enjoyed the story, music and
performances. And thank God they came up with a catchy title tune (you
hear it in total or bits about 15 times) as it never seems to get old.
Infectious performances by a budding cast of near miss and future stars, the setting, music, locations, Play-tunes tours, network TV shows and the inevitable band break-up all ring true.
The amazing thing to me is that given Tom Hanks' success, his appearance in the film (as well as writer/director hats), its up and coming cast and reasonable studio push, the movie wasn't a big box office success. Oh well, I never missed it when I passed it on the cable dial, now have it DVR'd when I need a boost, and recommend it to fans of all involved. It will not disappoint!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tom Hanks got his early start in television, entertaining audiences in
the "classic" sitcom "Bosom Buddies". He then moved to the big screen,
nabbing an Oscar nod for his role in "Big" and becoming only the 2nd
actor in history to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for his roles in
"Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump". There are very few people who can
succeed in acting on television, acting in movies, and making movies.
I am glad to say that Tom Hanks is one of them.
In his first attempt at directing a movie, Hanks brings us a flat-out fun story of a small rock group who climb the charts of success, only to fall flat just as quick as they rose. The movie has everything: the comedic timing of lines delivered by Steve Zahn and Hanks himself make us laugh without entirely turning the movie into a silly comedy. There are dramatic moments with Johnathon Schaech's character without turning the movie into a drama, and there is music galore without turning the movie into a musical. Everything is wonderfully balanced, not one element overpowers the other, and it comes across as an entertaining film.
With a movie like this, certain elements need to be executed perfectly in order for it to work. When you make a movie that follows the experiences of a group of teenagers, you need to be able to like the characters. I don't know if you'll find a much more likable character than Guy Patterson, an easy-going jazz lover who stumbles into the band by accident, then drives their climb to success with a simple change of tempo. You need to make it fun without being cliché, so keeping the band from reaching #1 on the charts is a smart move. And with any movie with a song as the centerpiece, you need to like the song. "That Thing You Do!" could be one of the catchiest songs to come out of any movie in recent memory, and the other songs that you hear over the course of the movie are entertaining, as well. When you can combine the star power of Tom Hanks and Liv Tyler with the music, magic, and sheer entertainment of this movie, you can't possibly go wrong. 9/10
This is one of my favorite movies..... When I need to feel good, I put this on.... Yes, you hear the song A lot.......But Steve Vaughn is SOOO great in this film... from"Where was I, Oh yea, playing music on my guitar"..... To " I'm just entering my pig in the livestock competition " Steve, if you need to laugh, I owe you a couple.....This is a great feel good movie, NOT A CHICK FLICK< GUYS!!! Just makes me laugh,and feel good....Tom E. Scott is adorable as "Shades", Met you briefly when you were in Stockton, filming Dead Man On Campus... Anyway, I would recommend this movie to anyone who grew up in the 60's or 70's. it's a great feel good movie... Thank you Mr. Hanks......... Paula
THAT THING YOU DO! was a warm and affectionate valentine to the world of pop music in the 1960's which marked the directorial debut of two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Hanks lovingly examines a phenomenon that was practically an epidemic in the music world in the 60's...the "One-Hit Wonder." This film is the story of a garage band in a small town who call themselves The Oneders who have perfected a nice little ballad called "That thing you do." The night they perform the song publicly for the first time, the drummer doubles the tempo and, as an up tune, the song is a smash. They record it and it even gets radio play. The group then meets a Mr. White (Hanks), who agrees to manage the group and get them national exposure. He changes their name to The Wonders because they keep getting introduced as "The Oneeders" and books them on tours of state fairs and even gets them on TV and in a beach party movie, all on the strength of this one song, but when the group pressures White to make another record, that's where the problems begin. This movie accurately portrays the way a musical act in the 60's was able to catapult to stardom on the strength of one record and then disappear forever. The film is beautifully mounted, with imaginative direction by Hanks and Oscar-worthy art and costume design. Tom Everett Scott lights up the screen as Guy, the drummer whose change of tempo changes the lives of the group forever. The film also features impressive turns by Jonathan Schaech as the arrogant lead singer, Steve Zahn as the fun-loving empty-headed guitarist and Liv Tyler as Schaech's girlfriend. Take note of my favorite scene in the film where the members of the group hear their song on the radio for the very first time...the joy depicted here is infectious as is this film, which proved to be an impressive directorial debut for Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks put a lot into this smart and funny off-beat picture (it's almost the cinematic equivalent of his persona when you see him interviewed on Letterman -- maybe it's that personally felt) which depicts the-rise-and-that's-all history of a one hit wonder band in the just post- British invasion '60s. It's hip and square at the same time and that damn song, played again and again in pleasing variations, is exactly right. The casting of the band mates, notably Jonathan Schaech (a wannabe Lennon or Dylan), Steve Zahn (a Ringo kind of goof) and Tom Everret Scott, a young Hanks lookalike, who has artistic jazz-minded desires, make for an ensemble that is heartfelt, real and friendly-- oh, and Ethan Embry plays the bass player. Hanks himself gives one of his best, and most understated, performances as the band's big-time producer/Svengali and Liv Tyler is the lead singer's perfect girlfriend, Faye -- "Well, Faye's special", says Hanks himself at one point and we know, any one who's been around a rock'n'roll band knows, he's right. Light, airy, kind of weird -- all the terrific (as well as the terrifically awful music -- "Lovin' You Lots and Lots" by the Norm Wooster Singers) is original to the film -- "That Thing...", even as it falters a little in its final third, makes you happy to watch a movie that its players and its makers are more than giddy to present.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was very heartwarming, funny, energetic, musically non stop! The actor that played the drummer for The Wonders was awesome! He actually knew how to play. This movie was fun. Tom Hanks at his best, (Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, BIG.) Great fun. I loved the theme song so much, I got on Itunes and downloaded New Found Glory's version of the theme song, That Thing You Do! It's an awesome song, and movie. See this, if you just want to have fun. The acting was wonderful, the lead singer I thought, looked a bit like the lead singer for The All-American Rejects. The drummer kind of reminded me of Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3 actor Tobey Maguire, physical resemblance. (Spoiler) The band originally has their named spelled, The Oneders, people in the film have in mistaken for the Oneeders, so they changed it to The Wonders, thanks to Tom Hanks character, who is their second manager.
Every actor in this movie does a spectacular job. You're immersed in their world immediately, and at no time do you want to leave. All of the songs are good, and the soundtrack was worth buying too. Tom Hanks does a good performance, and I thought it was pretty cool that the actors actually learned how to play their instruments in this movie, and you can tell during theperformance scenes. The humorous parts were actually funny, and thesomber parts were realistic. The characters were original and memorable, especially Mr. White, played by Tom Hanks. The song "That Thing You Do!" is a great song, it has a very Beatles feel to it, as does the entire movie; it conjures up images of the Beatles' movie "Help". It's a shame it isn't recognized by the general public, but overall, a great movie.
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