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That Thing You Do! (1996)

November 27, 2009

7/10 Future VH1 Posterboys

13 years later and that song is still catchy as hell.

That Thing You Do! is about four guys in ’64 that start a band in their garage called The Oneders (pronounced “1”-ders – it’s a running gag). Anyway, they write a hit song, the country goes freakin’ crazy for it, they get signed by a big-time label, and as The Proclaimers can probably tell you, things get complicated as they try to break out from their notoriety as the band behind America’s favorite one-hit wonder.

Pretty cool idea for Tom Hanks’ first writing/directing effort. Come on, who doesn’t like one-hit wonders? The Proclaimers freakin’ RULE!

It had been a while since I’d seen this, but That Thing Yo Do! is one of those movies I always find myself happy to revisit. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing since my Dad bought the soundtrack and, fittingly, all we did was listen to that awesome song over and over, completely ignoring the rest of the album, but this is just a feel-good movie in it’s own right that’s hard not to like if only for the song.

But that’s the funny thing about this movie, it all goes back to the song. It’s the best part of the movie, and even though Hanks does a lot of other things right, they all kinda get overshadowed in the long run.

Then again, one thing I do love about this is that the drummer is the main focus of the band. Tom Everett Scott is totally sweet as Shades. He’s a good character in general and both he and Hanks do a fine job of finally showing the world how cool drummers and drumming actually are. It’s about damn time. Damn singers and guitarists getting all the credit…

Steve Zahn is also great as the lead guitarist (its beyond me how this guy isn’t more mainstream by now, dude is hilarious). Man, there’s a million people in this movie. Liv Tyler as the lead singer’s girlfriend, Ethan Embry as the bass player (appropriately named T.B. Player), Tom Hanks as the band’s manager, Rita Wilson as a waitress, Charlize Theron as Shades’ girlfriend, Giovanni Ribisi as the band’s first drummer, Clint Howard as a radio deejay (Clint Howard rules), Colin Hanks for five seconds, Chris Isaak for ten seconds, Kevin Pollack for fifteen seconds, and I’m sure there’s about fifty other people I’m forgetting. Might not be a selling point or anything, but hey, I thought it was cool. That Tom Hanks sure does get around.

But like I said, Tom Hanks’ big problem is that he made that song too damn good. His directing is fine, the script is fine, but nothing else really stands out like that hit single. It’s an interesting story and Hanks probably has the best lines of the movie, but by the time credits roll, the only thing you’re gonna be doing is playing air drums to “That Thing You Do!”

The funny thing is that there’s a couple other good songs on this soundtrack based on the tracks The Oneders play in the movie that aren’t their big hit, but I guess that’s the whole point, and it works. After all, does anyone know any other songs by The Proclaimers? I’m sure they’re there, but that’s what I’m sayin’.

But alas, minor faults and all, That Thing You Do! is a fun trip with a great premise. Been whistling that song to myself the whole time I’ve been writing this and there’s no way you won’t be following suit after all is said and done.

That Tom Hanks…what a guy.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. madhatter21 permalink
    November 28, 2009 10:53 pm

    I actually read an interview somewhere that had Hanks talking about the song (which I think he even co-wrote). He mentioned that they worked really hard to come up with something especially catchy, since they didn’t want audiences sick of it by the end.

    Given how much you still dig it, I suppose it’s safe to say he got it right!

    Oh, and my favorite running gag through the movie? the fact that they never call the bass player by name (“Where’s your bass player?” “The band is great…it’s Jimmy and me and Lenny and…Faye”).

  2. November 29, 2009 11:45 am

    good film, catchy song – pity you hear it 34 times
    Giovanni Ribisi is a legend. i even forgive him for Lost In Translation

  3. November 29, 2009 3:04 pm

    I’ve never seen this film but I always think of this film when people mention Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ – another film I haven’t seen – but I am sure is very different. That Thing you do, do the right thing … so many things to think about.

    • madhatter21 permalink
      November 29, 2009 11:38 pm

      Damn…I’d feel sorry for anyone who mixed those two films up!! That’s worse than meaning to rent 28 DAYS and instead getting 28 DAYS LATER

      • November 30, 2009 11:50 am

        That’s a blessing in disguise right there, God forbid anyone has to actually sit through 28 Days. The real crime is if it’s the other way around. Gotta review 28 Days Later one of these…days.

  4. November 29, 2009 3:23 pm

    aw Simon, I sense a great YouTube mash-up video in that comment somewhere

  5. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:06 pm

    Thank God I’m not the only one who spent 1996 trying to get that !@#$^&! song out of my head.

  6. December 3, 2009 12:49 pm

    aw, yeah, i love this movie. really sweet. you just reminded me i have to see it sometime soon again…

  7. March 16, 2010 9:55 am

    Love that song, love the soundtrack, and love this film. It probably helps that I am very big into 50’s pop music, although calling it pop does a disservice to how great and edgy most of it was without even realizing it, but this film captures that time and period perfectly. It’s sweet and simple and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  8. November 30, 2012 5:52 pm

    One of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Paper thin characters, terrible dialogue. predicatable story. And that bloody terrible song – after I’d heard it for the tenth time I was ready to slit my throat. Absolutely awful. (And I’m a Tom Hanks fan)

    • December 1, 2012 1:03 pm

      Hahaha. Oh, MAN! That is some HATE! I’ll always have a soft spot for this movie, but I will admit that it’s not as good as it once was and that song does get old after a while. Maybe not suicide-inducing, but yeah, I hear ya. Sorry to hear you didn’t like it, but at least we’ll always have the rest of Tom Hanks’ awesome career!

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