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4.6 out of 5 stars49
4.6 out of 5 stars
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I'm going through a bit of a Tom Hanks season at the moment. In the past few days I've worked my way through Bachelor Party (endearing but idiotic), The Man With One Red Shoe (in no one way engaging), Big (something of a missed opportunity I think), Philadelphia (harrowing, sublime performance), Forrest Gump (possibly overrated, and based on a character its hard to emphasize with), and this, That Thing You Do!, not only Hanks' best film to that point, but also his debut as a writer AND director. Watching it only makes me wish he'd make more projects of his own, so filled to bursting is it with character nuance, throwaway zingers and crucially, a controlled, believable plot.

I'm sure you know the story; if not, allow me. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott, sporting the very same hairdo Hanks did in all of the above movies bar Gump) is drafted by the One-ders (pronounced as Oh-nee-ders by the marvelous Steve Zahn and just about everyone else) after their drummer breaks his arm actin' the lig. Much to Jimmy's (where-are-they-now candidate Johnathon Schaech) dismay he plays the band's one song much too fast come Talent Show night, and wouldn't you know, it becomes a hit. What follows is a brief brush with fame for the four members (plus an adorable Liv Tyler as Jimmy's put-upon girlfriend) before internal conflict tears things apart. Along the way Tom Hanks becomes their manager and changes their name to The Wonders. "That Thing You Do" proves to be their one hit.

It's an interesting plot but it's the way in which it's handled that makes the picture such a joy. Hanks' script is uncluttered, concise and at times absolutely hilarious. Much of the latter hilarity is delivered by Zahn, in my mind the major comedy star that never was. If any one actor stands out in this superb young cast, it's him. His every line is a joy. Regarding Hanks as a director, it should come as a shock that this is ostensibly a debut feature. It's a Oneder he hasn't directed any movies since.

I don't think I can do this film justice with any amount of praise. In the simplest terms, I admire how Hanks keeps things simple- the band's fame is brief, and their downfall believable, inevitable even. From the earliest scenes it's clear these four young men are headed in different directions, but drug and violence cliches are avoided. He treats his characters with a subtle warmth- witness Guy meeting his idol in a small jazz club, or Tyler's heartbreaking breakup speech- as well as imbuing his own performance with a mature sensibility that at the time was a fresh approach for him.

That Thing You Do is buying That Thing You Do! post-haste.
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on 6 March 2011
A heart breaker of a film. Mr Hanks brings his considerable charm to direction.

I don't agree with reviewers who call the film 'inconsequential' or 'simple' or imply it's a bit of fluff. It's made to look easy, but like writing a hit pop song, it requires a gift most don't have. If people knew the secret they would do it again and again.

Ironically, like the (one hit) Wonders, this film is Tom Hanks' one-off. And what a shame that is, or did he feel he didn't have another idea he wanted to work on as a director?

He pays attention to the characters and to the dialogue. An old-fashioned film in that way. It reminded me of American Graffiti, partly because of the themes, but also because it had some of the auteur spirit of American film directors from the 70's.

The boys look good in red and gold and black. Then they go home. They 'grow up'. Tom understands that, as Mr White, and as a Director.

Hope he does another film, but there has always been beauty in a one-hit wonder. Perfection, in any way that matters.
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on 9 August 2013
For what is obviously intended as a lightweight film, this is surprisingly more thought-provoking by the end than the general feel throughout. Well done Mr Hanks. The one-hit wonder (theme?) tune is a good piece in its own right.

Some nice acting from several of the cast treats the audience as if they are capable of thinking for themselves, instead of being bluntly told what the director thinks is meant to be going on. Which is a rare compliment from some directors, so well done again Mr Hanks.
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on 25 November 2000
This is a great film, but I really don't know why I like it so much as there's not really a very strong plot. The music is amazing though - I just can't help but boogie in my seat! Well worth watching, if only for the music of the 60's!
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on 18 November 2010
It's a comedy about real young people from the Rock `n Roll planet in the early 1960s. It's funny but also typically American. There are so many sharks going around looking for young teenage would-be rock stars that it is impossible not to be noticed by one, one day, not to become some one overnight and not to dissolved as soon as the top is reached. To stay at the top is really difficult. A band in those days, and in the USA, was the normal way for anyone who wanted to do some music on the stage to go around but bands did not last long. Everyone is not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, you know. This is the story of the short-lived Wonders and yet the four boys and the one girl who were there at the first public appearance in the boonies, all eventually did something with their skin and their brains, if they had any, both skin and brains. Today that adventure still exists in the USA but it has also taken names like Myspace music, Youtube, Daily Motion and some others. Permanence of course is nothing in that business in 99% of the cases, but chance is also essential for those who have something in their veins. A career is often 50% talent and 50% chance, some would say opportunity. But the film is funny, though so banal that it should be a warning to anyone who wants to imitate these young teenagers. As the old Paxton would say: look after your money, women and a few other things of that type. Yesterday is a sure thing that existed but tomorrow is as brittle as an egg shell in front of a bulldozer. And the world is full of bulldozers crushing many eggshells down into the ground and powder. Dust to dust mind you.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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on 5 February 2004
I saw this film quite by accident. I was just flicking through the sky channels a few years ago and this film popped up. I was hooked after a few minutes. What is great about this film is the colour of the film. You really feel like you're being transported into the sixties. The story is simple, a group of guys from Eerie, PA have a hit record and become teen sensations. The trouble is that as their fame grows the band slowly falls apart as does the romance between the lead singer and his girlfriend. Most of the music was actually written by Tom Hanks and the main song 'THAT THING YOU DO' does exactly what it's supposed to. It gets into your head like any one hit song. It's played continuously throughout the movie and by the end you irritatingly know all the lyrics. For any die hard fans of this film watch MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING also produced by Hanks. At the wedding reception the band plays one of the songs from THAT THING YOU DO. Great performances all round particularly Lennie and 'the Bass player'. I fell in love with 'SHADES'. Go watch it.
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on 7 June 2001
Imagine you wish you were a rock and pop star and wanted to have fame,fortune,success and gained it all from just one record making it in the charts. Imagine being a touring member of a band that came from a small town and made it big and appeared on tv too. What a dream come too?That thing You Do does all of this and captures the moments brilliantly.Set in the late 50s early 60s Tom Hanks directorial debut and writing project brings these dreams come to true for a small band in a samll town who win a local talent contest and go on to achieve short lived success in the American Top 100 with a song that has you singing it constantly long after the end credits have finished.The casting of all the band memebers is excellent with the drummer Tom Everett -Scott a sort of Tom Hanks lookalike, taking centre stage in the movie with great acting, and if he isnt a drummer he sure knows how to play like one too. Great movie, great fun and great music capturing the roadshow tours of the time. Even the Beatles worked like this too!!!!!!!
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on 16 May 2015
Tom Hanks takes the directing duties for this superb drama comedy about a 60's band one hit wonder adventure. The attention to detail is remarkable and the performances are brilliant as is the superb soundtrack, which I highly recommend on CD. This disc comes with both the theatrical cut and the director's cut. The picture and sound are both superb.

Here's the best bit - although the box says Region A the disc is in fact multi region so it plays fine on standard UK players, which is a blessing as this film is not available on blu ray in the UK as yet.
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on 26 April 2015
What is there not to love about Tom Hanks and the fact that he wrote this film is even better. A funny light hearted look at what happens if you achieve your dreams. Is it everything that you hope it will be ? Maybe modern day bands should watch this film, it shows that even with success, different personalities and different aspirations can break a band apart. Enjoy the story but do watch the special features, I found it very interesting to learn that the actors actually learnt how to play the instruments, it lends a certain authenticity to the film.
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on 27 July 2006
Well..... I watched this movie around 6 years back the first time and I enjoyed every bit of it. The songs in it take you back down memory lane when Rock n Roll was a craze... Not that it has lost its charm....When I bought this film on DVD it has been right it front of my DVD collection...

A must have.

Cheers
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