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That Thing You Do!

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 08/27/98 01:29:41

"It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

So, now that Tom Hanks won two Best Actor Oscars, what's his next move?

Well, he went and DIRECTED a film. That Thing You Do! is Hanks' first directing effort, and here, he basically created his own Monkees. We follow the fictional band called the Wonders (all together now... "Which one's Stevie?") through their short and volatile life span, circa 1964. From the early club days, to their indie single that eventually gets picked up by a major label, to local, regional, and nationwide stardom, to the quarrels and differences that inevitably break up the band, you witness almost every aspect of the roller-coaster fame ride.

The main characters we focus on in the band are Sporty Wonder and Scary Wonder... oops, I mean lead singer Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech) and drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott). Jimmy is a Serious Songwriter that wants to be known for more than just his catchy "That Thing You Do" song. Guy is a jazz enthusiast that longs to break out of his boring life helping out the family appliance-store business. Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler) is Jimmy's girlfriend who captures Guy's heart. This little triangle eventually contributes to the band's demise, among other factors. For the most part, guitarist Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn) and bassist T.B. (Ethan Embry) are merely spectators, though they have their share of fun moments.

That Thing You Do! is a solid and entertaining effort from Hanks, who also plays one of the band's managers. Yes, the song gets on your nerves after a while, but at least you know what your basic one-hit band goes through. Nobody in the audience is happy until they play that one tune... they could be sick of it after hearing and playing it all the time, but it's in heavy rotation at your average K-Joe radio station, so they gotta do their thing. Hanks doesn't get too wacky or somber in his depiction of the Wonders, getting the mood of the film just right... your basic success story of an American rock band hitting the big time, and collapsing under pressure.

All that's missing now is a Weird Al Yankovic parody of the "That Thing You Do" song.

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