Sunday, September 13, 2009

That Thing You Do! (1996) [PG] ****

It's 1964 in Erie, PA, and Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott), back home after military service in West Germany, is attempting to adjust to his new life as an appliance salesman in his parents' retail store, while developing his budding skills as a drummer. His friends include singer/guitarist Leonard Haise (Steve Zahn) and songwriter/singer/guitarist James Mattingly II (Johnathon Schaech) who have formed a band and are playing James' compositions. When the band's drummer breaks his arm, Guy is invited to join the band for a competition, and when Guy's up-tempo arrangement of James' song That Thing You Do! helps the band win the competition, the band comes to the attention of local talent scout Phil Horace (Chris Ellis).

As the song's success grows, Phil turns the group over to Mr. White (Tom Hanks) and Playtone Records, and as the song climbs the charts, the group, now called The Wonders and including James' girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) as costume mistress, finds themselves in Los Angeles, enjoying the glitz and glamour of the film, TV and music industries, where the realities of the music business inevitably take their toll on the group. This is a wonderfully creative and refreshing film about being young and in a band in the Sixties. The casting is perfect, the screenplay is tight and innovative, Hanks' direction is sensitive, and the music is original and sparkling, with just the right hint of the Beatles. If you're from the Sixties, you will definitely not want to miss That Thing You Do!

Labels: comedy, drama, music, romance
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 71/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=71, viewers=64)
Blu-ray Extended