"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, May 01, 2010

SNMR 8.4: "That Thing You Do!"


The year is 1964 and Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is stuck in a rut working for the family business, a downtown appliance store in Erie, Pennsylvania. He loves to play the drums, but only for himself. His friend Lenny (Steve Zahn) approaches him to fill in for his band's drummer, who fell and broke his arm. Along with lead singer Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), his girlfriend and first groupie Faye (Liv Tyler), and the bass player (Ethan Embry), they sign up to compete in a local college talent show, which they win.

Which leads them to a local promoter who has them cut their first record and gets their song on the radio, and eventually to Mr. White (Tom Hanks) who signs the band to the Play Tone label, changing their name from the "One-ders" to "The Wonders." Predictably the band's notoriety and fame rises quickly - from local gigs to county fairs to television specials and a national tour, leaving the band in sunny Los Angeles.

For whatever reason, it took me 13+ years to finally get around to watching this movie. Yeah, tell me about it.

This is a film that has a pleasant mix of comedy, drama and romantic tension; just the right amount of each, with excellent character development for each primary character. Excellent acting performances all around, from the main cast to the bit parts. Look for Giovanni Ribisi, Charlize Theron, Kevin Pollack, Peter Scolari (Hanks' Bosom Buddies co-star) and Rita Wilson (Hanks real life wife) certainly help.

I often wonder, when a major movie star like Tom Hanks sets his mind to writing and directing a feature film, what the results will be. Not surprisingly, Hanks' efforts were not wasted. The story is not unique, but the screenplay is well paced and quirky enough to be fun. As always, that the writer and director are the same person is a plus. It's too bad that Hanks has given up the director's chair for now. Hopefully he will return to it once his days in front of the camera aren't as many.

The only Oscar nomination this film received was for Best Original Song, which surprised me. After watching I would have thought this movie deserved a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, especially over less worthy candidates As Good as it Gets and The Full Monty, which lost out to Good Will Hunting.

The title song was very popular on the radio in the fall of 1996 and got much better reviews than did the actual movie, which only made $25 million domestically. Still, this is a mid-90's classic.

I didn't mind the ending, which some say was cut too short (maybe because the production ran out of money?), in which we only see one character arc end and are left to read about the rest.

The DVD I got from the library had both the theatrical release and the 39 minute longer extended version, which is the one I watched. The bummer for me was that the feature film DVD and the extras DVD were scratched beyond what a cleaning would fix. On the feature film DVD that's not as bad because at least you have a chapter search and can go back to about the place you were and resume watching but on the second DVD each extra was only one chapter, so when the disc froze I couldn't work around it. What I saw of the extras were well done.

Eventually I'll buy the two disc DVD collection.

That Thing You Do! is a movie that I'd watch again and recommend to you, especially if (like me) you've never watched it before or if it's been a while since you've seen it.

****½ out of *****

That Thing You Do! (1996, PG, 108 minutes [Theatrical version] 147 minutes [Extended Cut version]), starring Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron. Written and Directed by Tom Hanks.



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