Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 6/27/01
That Thing You Do!
1996 (2001) - 20th Century
review by Greg Suarez of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
105 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 34:14, at the start
of chapter 12), Amaray keep case packing, "behind-the-scenes"
EPK-style featurette, 2 music videos (for That
Thing You Do and Dance with Me
Tonight by The Wonders), theatrical trailers (in English,
Spanish, Italian versions), TV spots, film-themed menu screens with
music, scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.0 &
2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed
Jimmy: "I don't
know. I'm reluctant to sign anything that has to do with my music..."
Lenny: "Are you crazy?! A man in a really nice camper wants to
put our song on the radio! Gimmie a pen... I'm signing!"
Go back in time almost 40 years to the early days of rock and roll.
Before today's flurry of boy bands, such as The Backstreet Boys
(ack!) and N'Sync (blech!), there were "teen sensation"
bands that drove pubescent girls wild. That
Thing You Do! is Tom Hanks' pet project and homage to a
more innocent time in America. He made it because... well, he could
(after back-to-back Oscars and millions in ticket sales, are you
gonna tell him no?). Hanks wrote, directed and acted in this film,
which chronicles the overnight rise and fall of a fictional "one-hit-wonder"
teen sensation band in 1964. And man... is this ever one very cool
That Thing You Do! tells the
story of a young Erie, PA garage band called the Oneders (which is
supposed to be pronounced "Wonders," but everyone
pronounces as "Oh-needers"), that hit it big at a local
talent show with an original tune called That
Thing You Do (what else would it be called?). They
quickly develop a small fan-base, and catch the attention of a
regional talent scout for the major labels. As their song starts
getting heavy radio play, the band gets swept into a big time
recording contract with Play-Tone Records, courtesy of hot shot
manager Mr. White (Tom Hanks). Over the next several weeks, The
Wonders (no more Oneders, thank you) become more popular than they
ever imagined. They live the high life on tour and soak up the
attention. But when the very different personalities and priorities
of the band members clash, will The Wonders fall into music history
oblivion, forever to be known as one-hit-wonders?
That Thing You Do! works so
well because of two things: the script and the casting. Hanks'
screenplay is fresh and witty, and turns what could be just another
rock n' roll flick into a fun, sometimes wild ride, featuring
endearing characters and genuinely funny moments. Helping this cause
is a very talented ensemble cast, that injects each member of the
band with a unique personality. Steve Zahn steals this film as
Lenny, the lead guitarist. Zahn's spontaneity in his humor and
delivery are worth the price of this disc alone. Tom Everett Scott,
who plays the unpretentious drummer, Guy, is the lead character of
the film. Much of the movie is seen through his eyes. Johnathon
Schaech portrays Jimmy, the arrogant front man of The Wonders, and
the core talent behind the band. Rounding out the cast are Ethan
Embry, as the shy bass player, and the always lovely and talented
Liv Tyler as Faye (Jimmy's girlfriend), who tags along on tour as
the costume mistress.
Presented on DVD in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, That
Thing You Do! could look a bit sharper. The film looks
noticeably soft, with sometimes slightly muted colors and a bit of a
dark character. On the up side, the video is very smooth and free of
any blemishes or source print defects. Compression artifacting is
never an issue and neither is artificial edge enhancement.
The disc's Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack is energetic and engaging
during musical passages, filling the listening space with jangly
guitar riffs and powerful drum beats. During quieter moments, dialog
is natural and easy to understand, and ambience effects are
presented subtly, but noticeably.
As for the extra features, look for a 13-minute "behind-the-scenes"
featurette, hosted by former MTV personality Martha Quinn. The
featurette is little more than an EPK piece attempting to sell the
film, but it does offer a couple of interesting tidbits over and
above the typical promo reel. A pair of music videos for That
Thing You Do and Dance with Me
Tonight by The Wonders are also featured on the disc. The
videos are live performances of the songs taken from different parts
of the film. A handful of theatrical trailers can also be found,
which are presented in English, Spanish and Italian. Finally, a few
American TV spots appear as well.
Whether you're a fan of comedies or rock and roll flicks, you'll
love That Thing You Do!. We
already knew that Tom Hanks was a talented actor, but with this film
he proved himself a worthy writer and director as well. And Fox has
given us a DVD version of this film that, while not perfect, is
definitely worth the cash. Don't miss it!