Monday, May 29, 2017

Movie Review: "That Thing You Do!" (1996)

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Movie"That Thing You Do!"
Director: Tom Hanks
Year: 1996
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

After acquiring a new drummer who speeds up the tempo of one of their songs, a band from Eerie, Pennsylvania hits it big after the tune becomes a smash hit.

"That Thing You Do!" is written and directed by Tom Hanks, who is mostly known for his stellar, decades-long acting career. It stars Tom Everett Scott as Guy, Johnathon Schaech as Jimmy, Steve Zahn as Lenny, and Ethan Embry as The Bass Player, who collectively make up the members of the band 'The Wonders,' formerly known as 'The One-ders.' Joining them are Liv Tyler, who plays Jimmy's girlfriend Faye, Charlize Thereon as Guy's girlfriend Tina, and of course, Tom Hanks himself as Play-Tone Record's talent manager Mr. White. The film's primary focus is on Guy, a drummer who gets asked to join the band when their original drummer Chad, played by Giovanni Ribisi, breaks his arm in an idiotic way. It is when Guy slaps a faster tempo on Jimmy's ballad titled "That Thing You Do!" that they get noticed at a small time talent show and are sent on a fast moving rocket up the charts and catapulted into stardom.

This film truly has something for everyone: comedy, drama, music, and overall, many, many good times. It hits all of the major facets of a real-life pop band. Jimmy is the arrogant "talent" and lead singer; Guy is the ambitious heart, soul, and driving force of the band; Lenny is the lovable smart ass and all around goofball; and TB Player is the footnote, the one you never remember and could probably do without. Together, they make up The One-Ders, because, you know, "The Beatles use an E-A in The Beatles, so they can use an O-N-E like The One-Ders." We personally think they're talkin' gibberish. When Guy speeds up the tune, things begin to move very fast for the band. Without any logistics or kinks worked out, of course, struggles and fights are bound to ensue.

The title song to "That Thing You Do!," which is actually penned by Adam Schlesinger, is extremely catchy, one of the biggest movie earworms of all times. Trust us when we say you will find yourself singing "That Thing You Do!" song once and get it stuck in your head for a week or two straight. The rest of the soundtrack, though significantly more underappreciated, is just as fabulous as the signature song. Tom Hanks actually helped write some of the songs, including the opening number called "Lovin' You Lots and Lots," written entirely by him, and also finds great success with co-writers Gary Goetzman and Mike Piccirillo on tunes like "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart" and "Mr. Downtown." There are so many wonderful musical moments in this movie, it's hard to pick a favorite. In fact, this might even be the greatest film/music cross-over since "This Is Spinal Tap," which is truly saying something.

No one actor stands out apart from the rest, and they all get their chance to shine. Tom Everett Scott is the perfect Guy. He's laid back, levelheaded, and is a master drummer. Johnathon Schaech is tremendous as Jimmy: cocky when he needs to be, a serious musician, kind of a tool, but plays it well. We've always enjoyed Ethan Embry, and he's also great as T.B. Player, though his character is not meant to be the main star. Steve Zahn as Lenny is the role he was meant to play. His snark and sarcasm are appreciated by us, and he really livens up the film with his presence. These guys mesh so well together, you'd think they really are/could be an actual band. Liv Tyler shines as Faye, and Tom Hanks is as amazing as ever as Mr. White.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I can recite every word of every line in "That Thing You Do!" I can and I do, every single time we watch it. BigJ will attest to this, and as such, the script has rubbed off on him as well. This is one of those films that can and will make viewers instantly smile if they give it a chance, and will be a fabulous and fun re-watch for those who are seasoned fans. It's a good, clean movie with well made characters, a fantastic soundtrack, a lot of heart, tons of cameos, and heaps of nostalgia. Do yourself a favor and WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Do we recommend the film: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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