That Thing You Do! (1996)
Pssst, want to check out That Thing You Do! in our new look?
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I really enjoyed this movie. I knew basically nothing about it coming into it, and I came out really delighted by it. It's a charming movie, it's not amazing or anything but I was really impressed that Tom Hanks wrote, directed, and acted in it.
I especially appreciated all the little pieces of homage to jazz and rock history, especially the Beatles. They were subtle enough that they didn't stick out but if you recognized them it was a nice touch.
I feel like this is a movie that I'm going to come back to in the future, when I'm just in the mood for something that isn't too heavy.
Musical biopics always seem to follow the same basic formula, but what if you were writing for a fictional band? That Thing You Do! is Tom Hanks' attempt to do just that (he writes, directs, composes some songs, and of course plays a supporting role in it), and no, he can't totally avoid the formula, but I was most impressed when he did. The trick here is that under the guise of playing things as a tribute to Beatlemania, the film is really about one-hit wonders. How the band is exploited for that one hit, and how the record company really doesn't care if that's all it squeezes out of it. So we can mostly avoid the middle section where everyone's on drugs or whatever. And Charlize Theron is in here as a girl fighting tradition by not being all that impressed with her boyfriend's musical success. Not sure about the ending, where it seems our protagonist didn't take his idol's advice, but it's one of Hanks' rare missteps. I do like how he suggests the cross-country tour, and he is plainly having FUN directing this thing. Nice energy - I watched the extended cut and it flew by - and he does things like flirt with his wife on camera, and casts Bryan Cranston as Buzz Aldrin, which he'll do again as producer of From the Earth to the Moon in a couple years.
One of the best films ever. Period.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!