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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.55%
Worth A Look61.82%
Average: 16.36%
Pretty Bad: 1.82%
Total Crap: 5.45%

4 reviews, 31 user ratings

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That Thing You Do!
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by MP Bartley

"As they say in jazz club, 'Nice'."
3 stars

It can't be denied that the 60's was a wonderful period for music. The Beatles, The Byrds, The Rolling Stones, Dylan, the Beach Boys...the list goes on and on. But you also LSD, acid, dope and mental breakdowns. Unsurprisingly, Tom Hanks directorial debut concentrates on the former list and ignores the latter to create a sweet, if sanitised, nostalgia piece to the music of the 60's.

Guy (Tom Everett Scott) is an aspiring drummer with a problem - he hasn't got a band. This changes however when a local band lose their drummer to a broken arm and Guy is quickly drafted in as a replacement to play alongside moody singer/songwriter Jimmy (Jonathan Schaech), party loving bass player Lenny (Steve Zahn) and the unnamed bass player (Ethan Embry). Also along for the ride is Jimmy's loving girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler).

They name themselves the Wonders (but spelt oneders which gets them pronounced the o-nay-ders) and have one decent song - a mid-paced ballad, 'That thing you do!'. Guy however, brings a bit of pace to the song and it quickly takes off leading to them being branded the next big thing and being taken under the management of Mr White (Tom Hanks).

Is the rest of the film predictable? Absolutely. Cue the usual hi-jinks of a band on the road and the usual fall-outs between the happy-go-lucky rhythm section of the band and the ego-centric lead singer who only cares about the music.

Hanks is so determined to coat this tale in a suger-coated nostalgia, that the 60's come across as the cleanest period in human history. No-one drinks too much, smokes, takes drugs or has sex. Despite falling out with each other the band refrain from calling each other names. 'The Commitments' it isn't. Even a subplot about Guy's girlfriend having an affair (an early appearance by Charlize Theron) is dismissed in one line of dialogue, because it's too uncomfortable for the tone probably.

But despite this overly cute approach, 'That Thing You Do!' is near impossible to dislike. It has a sunny and charming disposition and Hanks keeps the pace zipping along. The cast are mainly forgettable apart from Hanks' crabby manager and the always entertaining Zahn. No matter how cliched the part, you can guarantee that Zahn will bring something to it that makes it effortlessly watchable.

The music too is fine and suits the period well, with the title song guaranteed to be rattling around your head for days afterwards.

Pleasant. Warm. Cute. These are all words to describe 'That Thing You Do!'. Legendary. Genre-shifting. Genius. These are words to describe the best of 60's music, but are words that will never grace a 'That Thing You Do!' review. It's a film that no-one could hate, but also no-one could truly love.

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originally posted: 10/05/04 00:48:08
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User Comments

2/04/18 Suzanne I lived this period: authentic music, costumes, and innocence 4 stars
7/09/11 DK Engrossing and lovely. I hope Hanks finds more time to direct in the future. 4 stars
1/01/10 Jeff Wilder Good story. But would've benefited from more satiric bite. 3 stars
2/28/07 Mike in TX One of my all-time favorites 5 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday OK, but not as good as I had heard. 3 stars
1/24/05 Phil M. Aficionado Refreshingperiod piece with laughs and warmth, and Liv, and Tom. Fun. 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung Normal, harmless comedy that has no bite and pulls every punch. 2 stars
10/18/02 Charles Tatum Surprisingly good 4 stars
11/24/01 Andrew Carden Extremly Dull and Boring Musical Which Show Hank's Bad Musical Talent. 1 stars
6/15/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe I hate Hanks but gotta give him credit for this little gem 4 stars
6/13/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Tom Hanks has some potential on the other side of the camera, too, I see... 4 stars
5/03/01 roy healey wow what a great song 5 stars
3/14/01 Abigail Whitney Great movie . . . leaves you smiling. Excellent music. 5 stars
2/15/01 Phil M. Afficianado 30 yrs younger than at 7 am today. Bought new car, then saw it. All smiles. Try it yourself 4 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla good songs, modest directing, and a shitty script, just watch it for the music 3 stars
11/27/00 hk It was wonderful! 5 stars
11/07/99 Anthony Ellis It had a lot of potential, but it didn't deliver on that. Badly written, it was a real dud! 1 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: *** (out of ****) Category: "Good" 4 stars
6/17/99 luana Its got a good song to go with it! 5 stars
4/20/99 bb Pile of shit 1 stars
2/20/99 Piz cute movie with lots of spirit and soul. 4 stars
2/04/99 Michelle Me Belle Awesome soundtrack, good actors. all around cute. best movie kiss ever!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob Good story, Good music, Good performances. 4 stars
10/14/98 Chi-Fan Hu I loved the tunes 4 stars
10/03/98 wind excellent movie to watch at anytime... 5 stars
9/28/98 Heather Cute! I like it! And I *really* like Tom Everett Scott. :) 4 stars
9/25/98 ShadowStar Good movie, but that song... hey, Mr. Hanks, ever hear of the concept of overkill? 4 stars
9/01/98 MikeF I liked this one a lot. catchy tunes too. 4 stars
8/30/98 Mister Whoopee Very enjoyable. no epic, but worth a bunch o'maltesers. 4 stars
8/25/98 Zach Hyatt A solid movie. Keeps you interested, if you're not expecting something epic. 4 stars
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  04-Oct-1996 (PG)
  DVD: 08-May-2007



Directed by
  Tom Hanks

Written by
  Tom Hanks

  Tom Everett Scott
  Liv Tyler
  Johnathon Schaech
  Steve Zahn
  Ethan Embry
  Tom Hanks

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