That Thing You Do! (1996) Poster

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9/10
Meet The Oh-NEED-ers!
jhclues22 April 2001
Tom Hanks wrote and directed this paean to the glory days of rock n' roll, an era in which even the wildest music still reflected a certain innocence, long since gone if not forgotten, before the advent of Metal, Rap and Grunge. It's 1964, and `That Thing You Do!' is about to become a hit record for a small band out of Erie, Pa., who call themselves the `Oneders (pronounced Wonders),' but who are destined to begin their musical odyssey know as the `Oh-NEED-ers.' Drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) works in his father's appliance store, but when the band's drummer breaks his arm right before a gig, Guy is asked to sit in for him. And it winds up being a case of being in the right place at the right time for Guy, like when Ringo joined The Beatles, and the rest-- as they say-- is history.

It's a lively, upbeat tale in which luck, talent and chance all play a part. Hanks presents the upside of making it in the music business, including the adrenaline rush of hearing one's own song on the radio for the first time, as well as all the hoopla that surrounds those who happen to be in the spotlight at the moment. But he also shows the downside: The creative differences and in-fighting which plagues just about any band ever formed to some degree at one time or another, the personality conflicts and petty jealousies that are apt to surface at any time, and the reality of dealing with bloated egos, adoring fans and rude, insensitive record label executives who could care less about the talent that is putting the coins in their coffers, as long as they're selling records.

For the most part, Hanks keeps it lighthearted and cheerful, which-- along with the original songs (some of which he helped write)-- makes this an entertaining, fun and thoroughly enjoyable movie. He sugar-coats the dark side of it all to a certain extent, which makes the bad things that happen a bit easier to swallow, though it compromises the impact of the events somewhat as they unfold. Then again, he manages to maintain the credibility and integrity of his story, and after all, `this' is the film he wanted to make, and he presents it exactly as intended. Hanks captures a sense of time and place with this film, and also that same sense of reality conveyed by The Beatles' film, `A Hard Day's Night,' intentionally avoiding the more stoic reality of the more recent `Almost Famous.' All three films are fairly true to life, but with varying degrees of honesty. It's a matter of whether to `imply,' as Hanks has done, or to be explicit, as Cameron Crowe chose to do with his film.

With this film Hanks proves that he is equally as adept behind the camera as he is in front of it; he knows exactly where he wants to take his audience and when, and he does it quite successfully. He also extracts some nice performances from his actors, especially Scott, Johnathon Schaech (Jimmy, the lead singer), Steve Zahn (Lenny, on guitar) and Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Jimmy's girlfriend, who takes the brunt of the blunt edge of Jimmy's sudden notoriety. Hanks also turns in a notable performance himself, as Mr. White, the representative of one of the labels interested in the Oneders.

The supporting cast includes Ethan Embry (The Bass Player), Charlize Theron (Tina), Obba Babatunde (Lamarr), Giovanni Ribisi (Chad), Chris Ellis (Phil), Alex Rocco (Sol), Bill Cobbs (Del Paxton), Peter Scolari (Tony), Rita Wilson (Marguerite), Chris Isaak (Uncle Bob) and Kevin Pollak (Boss Koss). What `Happy Days' was to television, `That Thing You Do!' is to movies; a film that evokes that perceived sense of innocence of a time when life at least seemed simpler. For the more distance you put between the present and the `Good old days,' the better they get. In reality, they may not have been better, but Hanks preserves that illusion by giving us a picture of the way we'd at least like to think things were. And it's more than a pleasant diversion; this is a feel-good film you'll be able to enjoy time and again, because it takes you to a place you'd like to be-- a place you've been to before at one time or another, in one way or another, if only in your mind. And that Hanks can take you there so readily is not only a credit to his talent, but another fine example of the pure magic of the movies. I rate this one 9/10.
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8/10
Familiar tale told freshly, honestly, with appealing cast
moonspinner5518 March 2001
We've sorta been down this road before: 1960s pop band makes it out of their dead-end hometown for Hollywood, but fame and fortune unravel the fun. Still, this picture has remarkable focus, careful period detail, and a lovely cast that rarely (if ever) strikes a false note. If some of the young actors sometimes seem like they're doing Tom Hanks impersonations, that's okay because director Hanks (himself a co-star) seems to know these characters inside and out--and he likes them. We in the audience are quick to respond, and even the conventional parts of the movie work because Hanks rides over clichés with verve and enthusiasm and wit. Not a raucous comedy a la "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (which is what it looked like to me in the ads), this has its share of subtle moments. There is a mean-spirited dig at the Frankie & Annette "Beach Party" flicks, and the ready-made romance at the end is sugar-coated, but "That Thing You Do!" is immensely likable. It has a huge heart. ***1/2 from ****
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9/10
A Refreshing Throwback
ccthemovieman-125 August 2006
I remember when I first saw this in the '90s and thinking, "Wow, what a shock: a modern-day movie with no no villains, no nasty people and nary a cuss word." I kept waiting for that stuff, and it never appeared. It also has a nice sentimental ending.

The story is a simple one about a group of average guys who form a band and become one-hit wonders.

Tom Everett Scott, a young Tom Hanks-lookalike, is an appealing lead and Liv Tyler looks very, very pretty in the female lead role. The band in this almost-old-fashioned musical, is good to hear, too. They are a throwback to the old movie musical days of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Yes, you hear the same song (the movie title) over and over but's a great song which is very catchy. The rest of the music is decent, too.

Speaking of Hanks, he plays the promoter of the group. It's not a huge part but Hanks, as always, is entertaining. The whole film is, and, is refreshing to see.
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8/10
Unless you were there.
moosenmoo3524421 January 2008
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.
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9/10
A Hoot; comes very, very close to being a great movie
rzajac24 July 2004
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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10/10
That Thing You Do - A Review By Jo Henshaw
johenshaw15 June 2000
That Thing You Do! In every life there becomes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.

That Thing You Do begins with a group of friends practising for their college talent show. Their band - the amusingly named One-ders win the contest with their catchy song - That Thing You Do. But this is only the beginning of their success story. In a blur, the newly renamed Wonders become a hit - playing at their local clubs, and then moving on to a national tour with Playtone records under the guidance of Mr White (Tom Hanks) The beauty of the film is there is no conflict, just the excitement and exhilaration that the band feels as they become celebrities and this is can't be shown better than in the scene where they first hear their song on the radio and they are literally dancing in the street, you can't help but feel happy for them too. Tom Everett Scott plays the charming Guy Patterson - the electrical store assistant who becomes the band's drummer and a national sex symbol with his trademark sunglasses. Lenny (Steve Zahn) is the carefree guitarist who sees the bands success as a huge lark and just throws himself into enjoying every day. Jimmy (James) Mattingly II is the band's creativity - writing the songs - and also its serious side. He sees the commercialisation of the wonders as stifling his creativity and is reluctant to sign anything to do with his music. Liv Tyler is also a delight as Jimmy's girlfriend Faye and the band's biggest supporter. The success of That Thing You do lies in the little things that are so easy to miss yet are the glue that brings the whole film together. Watch out for how well Guy's family react to his success and how the bands first drummer with the broken arm keeps turning up. Also notice how it is Guy that keeps looking out for Faye. It is these little things that will bring you to the film and that find you leaving with a smile and a desire to see it again.
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10/10
A Cathartic Release
ShadesDdrummer1 January 2004
If you have ever been in a band and dreamed of getting out of the garage and onto a stage,then this movie is definitely for you! No matter when you had this dream,you'll experience all the pleasures and joys of being a musician,,,and of course all the downfalls.Yes,it is from a time that won't return,when the music business wasn't such a meat parade and had to do with eager talent.That was then and this is now. Still the characters represent the different types you'll come across,the egos, the clowns and the luck of being at the right place at the right time.At this point in time,it is also interesting to see how the cast members have gone on to other projects,the most recent being Liv Tyler in LOTR,Giovanni Ribisi in COLD MOUNTAIN,Thom Everett Scot in ER and I think that Hanks fellow has been around doing this and that.
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A great little film with cult movie ambitions
TigerMann1 April 2004
"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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8/10
That Thing Done Well is a Thing of Beauty Indeed.
dunmore_ego30 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
A snappy, exhilarating movie, with a slightly 'down' ending, but which nonetheless entertains, without educating (a staple of American cinema). That's not to say this isn't an excellent film - full credit goes to Hanks (as writer-director) for crafting a vehicle in which he stars, that he is not the star of, focusing on the rise and fall of a rock group ensconced in British Invasion-era America.

'Not educating' because this film deals very little in the reality of the business management behind The Wonders' success. Sure, no audience will sit through protagonists sludging through reams of contracts, but an audience can stomach details on the industry process of promoting an artist, because we see The Wonders single rising the Billboard charts, but no one ever mentions how it does this. Hanks puts in clues, but the dots are never joined - which might be construed as treating an audience as "intelligent" - whoa!, let's not go overboard...

The Wonders are drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott, oozing pleasant-ville like a born-again on crank), bandleader Jimmy (an intensely-focused Johnathon Schaech), guitarist Lenny (Steve Zahn, also pleasant - but unbalanced in that non-threatening way we term "kooky"), and a nameless bassist (Ethan Embry, a wisp of effete lower end). Rounding out the troupe is Jimmy's unappreciated girlfriend, Fay (the gorgeous Liv Tyler).

After a few appearances and an indie single, The Wonders "make it" (see how EASY it is, starving musicians?). In turning them over to a major record label, The Wonders' first Garage Days manager, Phil, portrays a simplistic, "noble" approach ("My bird-doggin' is done - Play-Tone's gonna take care of ya"), failing to mention that for a major to express that much interest in a band, the label's rep, Mr. White (a high-foreheaded Hanks), must have bought The Wonders' contract from Phil with a monetary offer he couldn't refuse. When Guy expresses how easy it all seems, White smoothly purrs, "Well, papers will have to be signed and you'll have to get me the master tapes..." Suddenly Reality is served - you could almost see the horns growing out of White's forehead.

Hanks doesn't serve up too much of this meat, and by concentrating on the end-result of all the bureaucracy and hard work - the gigs - we are given a skewed view of this "job." Seems like it's all just "fun," but there are as many rockers who attest that they "hate their job," as there are desk-jockeys nine-to-fiving. When it's your primary income, it's your Job - simple. And any job done well will elicit fun. Any job where you cannot cope, becomes not fun.

The band guys are perceived as financially secure by movie's end, but a debut artist selling one single - even to Number One - cannot possibly recoup any of the money that the record label advanced to duplicate, promote and distribute the single nationally. As most veteran artists will attest, they had to wait for their fourth or fifth album (not single) to put them in the black fiscally. And The Wonders ultimately reneged on their contract, which meant that any advances assigned as living expenses on tour would suddenly dry up. It's an intimidating, debilitating legal situation that ensues - but the film sidestepped this issue. Rightly so.

The crowning glory of this movie is undoubtedly its synchronized soundtrack. Very few movies (including monumental, award-winning productions like Amadeus or Immortal Beloved) pay this much attention to ensuring that musician's manipulations on screen match the audio soundtrack, except maybe "This Is Spinal Tap." (Of course, movies about real musical artists don't enter this assessment: "Woodstock," "Gimme Shelter," "The Song Remains The Same," etc. - although the Zep movie has its mighty share of non-sync passages.) When the Eddie & The Cruisers movies surged into cinemas in the 80s, I was humiliated at the lack of savvy the filmmakers exhibited in their portrayal of the rock and roll milieu. A major musical flaw was the set-and-forget production value for all the songs, making them sound exactly the same, as if they were all recorded in one place at one time, with one overall mix - which is what was actually done, of course - but to bring some credibility to the movie, the producers should have assessed the circumstances for each scene and mixed the music accordingly – which is what Hanks and his audio personnel intuitively did for this movie.

Every single time The Wonders perform their hit, the eponymous "That Thing You Do," the sound is mixed to reflect the type of stadium, bar or studio they are in; every single on screen frame of the actors-playing-musicians is synched – Hanks specifically made his principals take instrument lessons before filming began – down to every single beat of drum-fill on screen being accounted for, down to the guitarists changing to correct chords in correct positions in sync with the audio! If Hanks was brave enough to cast Liv Tyler (a daughter of Rock Royalty), he must have had heady confidence in his team of editors and sound engineers, for to fail at putting across the "musicality" of this movie (with Steven's progeny willing to be involved in it) would not allow Hanks to show his face in public ever again.

Of course there are minute flaws, but none worth mentioning here. There are too many trinkets to keep one sated: Guy's fastidious father, Jimmy's fascination with punning the band's name (spelled initially as "One-Ders" and subsequently mispronounced "Oh-NEE-ders" continuously), the well-drawn band personalities (the "talented one," "smart one," "quiet one," "zany one"), cameos from Peter Scolari (Hanks' old Bosom Buddy), Rita Wilson, Alex Rocco (Moe Green in The Godfather), Kevin Pollak; the subtle romance between Guy and Fay, who are not actually an item until the last few frames of film...

...and you'll never be able to get that damn song out of your head!
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8/10
Light but charming film
Sean Gallagher21 October 1999
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed Hanks' feature directing debut(this is not, by the way, the first time he sat in the director's chair; he directed a segment of a Showtime film noir series; I think it was called CITY OF ANGELS). He did a convincing job not only recreating the time, but also the music, which sounded like period music without being a pale shadow of it. He also made a wise choice for his lead; Tom Everett Scott may not have moved on to bigger things yet, but as this film shows, he's destined for them. Steve Zahn is funny as always, Hanks does well playing a company man, and Liv Tyler is quite luminous(though I could have done without the "thousand kisses" speech; that was melodramatic). On the down side, I'm not a big fan of Johnathan Schaech, but his character was too much of a caricature. And sometimes it was just too light. Still, this was overall an enjoyable movie.
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9/10
LOVE this movie!
Kelly (hisown)5 September 2005
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?**)
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10/10
The Amazing Tom Hanks Can Do No Wrong.
famousgir117 September 2001
Tom Hanks directs, writes and stars in this brilliant rock 'n' roll movie, which features a great soundtrack too. I love the 50's/60's days, so this movie was perfect for me. There was some great acting here too, especially, by the brilliant Tom Hanks. This is a movie, that everyone should see. That Thing You do, definitely deserves a 10/10.
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Nostalgic look back at the 1960s, when I was a beginning college student.
TxMike17 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen this movie a number of years ago but didn't remember much about it, so I saw it again today on DVD from my public library. I was a college Freshman in 1963/64, when the Beatles were first gaining popularity on this side of the pond, and this movie fairly accurately recreates that period, the way people dressed, and how teenagers reacted when seeing their pop idols live in concert.

The story grabs hold of a theme I am very fond of pondering, both in real life and in fiction stories. That theme is the relative randomness of our lives, the things that happen, and then how we react to those random events. If we look at random events in our own lives, we can see how certain unexpected things shaped who we are today.

In this movie a group of high school friends like to make music, one of them writes songs and is the featured singer. He has written "That Thing You Do" and they are about to perform it in a local small-potatoes contest. But the drummer, horsing around by showing the bass player how to jump over parking meters, falls and breaks his arm right before the contest.

Now that is the "random event", and it leads them to ask another guy in town, who is a good drummer, to sit in for that one gig, so that they will still have a chance to win the competition. Then comes the rest of the influence of that "random event", the drummer own his own (this is important) decides to beat out a much faster tempo. It is this faster tempo that makes "That Thing You Do" a hit with the audience, attracts the attention of an agent, gets them a record, gets them a contract, puts them on tour, and has their hit rise towards the top of the charts.

If their original drummer had not broken his arm, they would have just remained an ordinary band.

Well as the story progresses they experience all the growing pains of sudden fame, and conflicting priorities among the members of the group. Tom Hanks directed, has a part as a record label agent, and he even wrote many of the songs.

Tom Everett Scott who was in his mid-20s is very good as the replacement drummer, Guy Patterson. Liv Tyler, still a teenager was Faye Dolan who ended up traveling with the band. Her boyfriend was Johnathon Schaech as Jimmy who wrote the song and sang lead vocals. Steve Zahn was the crazy member Lenny, and Ethan Embry, also a teenager, was T. B. Player the unreliable bass player.

Another teenager just starting her career was Charlize Theron as Tina in a fairly small part, as a flaky girlfriend who dumps Guy after an appointment with a handsome dentist. Plus young Giovanni Ribisi as Chad , the original drummer who breaks his arm.

All in all a fairly pleasant movie.
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9/10
Entertaining and mostly musically accurate for the period
LSeals13 December 1998
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.
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10/10
A very good movie to say the least.
brianlaughran5 September 2009
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 success.

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.
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9/10
And now there's a 'director's cut'?
Bowserb4615 December 2008
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.
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7/10
Wholesome
triple824 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT:

That Thing You Do is a sweet and fun movie that's enjoyable to watch, particularly when one just wants to relax. While it doesn't have the edge of some other films I've seen dealing with bands and music, what it does have is rare to find and that's wholesomeness. There is a sweet wholesome quality through the whole movie and it's mood is contagious. Definitely a fun movie to watch.

I will say that the most interesting characters for me, were not the guys in the band, they were Tom Hanks himself and Liv Tyler who's darling here as Fay. I liked the fact that these characters were not over the top and were very believable. I wouldn't really refer to this as that much of a comedy, it doesn't have a lot of fall down in your seat funny lines. What it does have though is sweetness. You may not laugh constantly but you sure will smile a lot.

The main thing I was surprised about was the ending which was kind of abrupt and I really did feel should have been longer. I wasn't to into the updates at the end, the "where they are nows", to me things were just wrapped up awfully quickly and I didn't expect the movie to end that abruptly. Maybe it should have been longer.

This movie has a great reputation and I can see why, it makes a nice view and almost seems like it's from another time period. My vote on this one is 7 of 10 and a recommended viewing, particularly to any music lover.
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7/10
Nice moral tale, full of youthful energy
Epaminondas4 January 2005
Warning: 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!
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9/10
"That Thing" is wonderfully done with irresistible style and substance
SwingBatta5 February 2002
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
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8/10
sweet, nostalgic story of a rock band
hbs23 August 2001
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).
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9/10
You had to live it to really appreciate it.
maxfabien23 February 2001
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".
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8/10
I don't want to gush but...
Rumples10 January 1999
This is really a great movie, no question. I rarely watch a film that is so skilfully crafted and yet is completely inoffensive to any segment of society. The movie combines comedy (and some parts are definitely funny) with romance in a tender-hearted tale of friendship and growing up. I simply cannot recommend this movie highly enough except to say that this is a film I could watch multiple times. Brilliantly acted by a still maturing cast ensemble, witty dialogue, it's got it all. If you want to see something that with touch you and give you a buzz but you don't want to be assailed by profanity, violence, or sexuality - That Thing You Do! is the movie for you. Another Hanks triumph, not just for his role in the movie but for putting it all together. 8/10
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Lacking a bit of depth but breezy and enjoyable with a nice sense of period
bob the moo23 April 2005
In small town America, a group of friends gain a new drummer in the shape of Guy Patterson and a new band name in the "One-ders". Getting the crowd going at their school competition with their catchy number "That Thing You Do", the One-ders get offered a gig at a local bar. The local buzz takes a few minutes to get going but soon their song is the talk of the town's youth and they decide to print the record up themselves. When a small time manager picks them up they get a few more gigs but things really start to move when they get signed by Play-tone and manager Mr White. However with increasing fame comes the adrenalin rush of success but then tensions, creative differences, distractions and all the stresses of their 15 minutes.

Acting as writer and director, Tom Hanks draws on the idea of fame and the setting of the mid-sixties to create a film that is fun even if it never consistently has the depth that it needed to make it more of a memorable affair. The plot is the rise and eventual fall of the band – this is not a spoiler as the point of the film is that they will be a one-hit wonder; it is enjoyable on this level because it has much that is recognisable and easily referenced to the experience of real groups down the years. It doesn't make these references in a heavy way but mostly with good humour and pace; only really towards the end does the script stumble a bit as it seems to realise that it needs substance to make a good ending and then tries too hard with too little. Outside of this though, it mostly moves very slickly and made for an enjoyable watch even if it isn't that memorable. It was amusing without ever being hilarious; well set in the period without ever having a lot of style to it and interesting without ever really getting beyond the basic pigeonholed characters (goofy one, creative one, girlfriend of the band etc).

The cast helps by matching the breezy feel for the film but they do tend to struggle when anything more is asked of them. Scott is a point in case; he is asked to carry the film, which he does do when it is all slick but the attempts at substance see him seemingly unsure of what to do. Tyler is in the same sort of boat but is still a good presence. Zahn is funny without being annoying; Schaech has a clear character and plays it well and Hanks makes sure he has a good support role for himself. The support cast has lots of faces in there with minor roles for Cobbs, Ribisi, Theron and others.

Overall this is an OK film that is enjoyably breezy and "nice". It references well enough to be recognisable but it doesn't have a great deal going on just below the surface that it could have done with to really make it memorable. Like the Wonders themselves, it is fun and slick when it is on but when it is over you'll find yourself quickly moving on to the next film with not too many memories.
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9/10
Takes you back to the simple days of rock & roll
billkexel25 May 2006
The scenes I found most interesting displayed the reality of the rise & fall of entertainers. How the new rising stars were "it" & the ones that had songs starting down the charts were considered the "has-beens". All within a matter of a couple months. It's over that quick.

I have read several comments on here where reviewers compared this band to the Beatles, The Byrds or the Turtles. These are bad comparisons. These were MAJOR bands with many hits. The Beatles were considered Gods.

"The Wonders" were a ONE hit, flash-in-the-pan group. I compare them to other mid 60s bands like "The McCoys" (Hang on Sloopy) The Beau Brummels" (Laugh Laugh) "The Easybeats" (Friday on my mind) "The Standells" (Dirty Water) and other American garage bands that had one huge hit & then quickly faded away.

It follows them from the beginning, thru their rise & fast pace of fame & the fall & back to their normal life again.

This film captures the feel of being young & in a band during the early-mid 60s when there were thousands of bands like "The Wonders" in America that hoped for that big break & to get their 15 minutes of fame.
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10/10
Thinly-veiled but fun homage to the Fab Four.
dhallen26 June 2004
The music alone is reason enough to watch (and re-watch) this movie. Beatles fans will enjoy the many allusions and parallels to the early days of the Fab Four. These include: 1) the One-ders first producer was an uncle whose experience is limited to recording church choirs -- Sir George Martin's forte was comedy before he began producing for the Beatles; 2) Tom Hanks, as the group's manager, stands off to the side wearing sunglasses, exactly like Brian Epstein can be seen doing in concert footage of the Beatles; 3) the group struggles with a name, as did the Quarreymen/Moondogs/Silver Beatles/Beatles; 4) the drummer's name is never revealed, a nod to Ringo Starr/Richard Starkey -- the luckiest drummer in Liverpool. There are many more....
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