- That Thing You Do!
That Thing You Do!
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Hanks Produced by Jonathan Demme
Written by Tom Hanks Starring Tom Everett Scott
Music by Howard Shore Cinematography Tak Fujimoto Editing by Richard Chew Studio Clavius Base Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date(s) October 4, 1996 Running time 108 minutes
149 minutes (Extended cut)
Country United States Language English Budget $26 million Box office $34,585,416
That Thing You Do! is a 1996 comedy-drama musical film written and directed by Tom Hanks. Set in the summer of 1964, the movie tells the story of the quick rise and fall of a one-hit wonder rock band. The film also resulted in a musical hit with the song "That Thing You Do".
In 1964, Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is a recreational drummer and jazz fan who works at his family's Erie, Pennsylvania appliance store. Rhythm guitarist/lead singer James "Jimmy" Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech) and lead guitarist/singer Leonard "Lenny" Haise (Steve Zahn) ask Guy to substitute at the annual Mercyhurst College talent show for their group's injured regular drummer Chad (Giovanni Ribisi). The group, including the bass player (who is never given a proper name and only given the alias of T.B Player) (Ethan Embry) play a ballad written by Jimmy and Lenny titled "That Thing You Do". Jimmy's girlfriend, Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler), suggests for the group the name "The Oneders" after being inspired by Guy's performance at practice (it is pronounced "ONE-ders", but it is almost always mispronounced as the "oh-NEE-ders." or some similar variation).
At the talent show, Guy unexpectedly sets up a fast, pounding beat rhythm to the originally slow-paced love song and it excites the crowd. The Oneders win the $100 top prize, obtain their first paying gig at a pizza parlor, and begin selling a single of "That Thing You Do", which receives local radio airplay and earns them bookings in nearby cities. After being heard by a local manager, Phil Horace, their act becomes hotter and, at a Pittsburgh gig, record company A&R representative Mr. White (Hanks) signs the band to Play-Tone Records, renaming the group The Wonders. The Wonders and "costume mistress" Faye tour state fairs across the Midwest during the summer with other Play-Tone artists, during which Guy and Faye grow closer. "That Thing You Do" enters and climbs the Billboard Top 100. The Wonders go from being the opening act to the feature attraction, and throngs of teenage girls mob the band, but the bass player still plans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps at the end of the summer. When "That Thing You Do" hits the Top 10, Play-Tone sends the band to Hollywood to meet Sol Siler (Alex Rocco), the label's owner. On the flight, Faye comes down with a mild case of flu and only Guy seems solicitous of her comfort. Siler and White promise The Wonders that they will appear in a major motion picture and have a recording session for an album.
The Wonders appear as "Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters" in the low-budget beach movie Weekend at Party Pier; this and Siler's other actions disillusion Jimmy, whose apparent uninterest in anything (or anyone) that doesn't help him forward his career clearly disturbs White and, slowly, the other members of the band. The bass player leaves the group to join Marines he met at their hotel and never returns. Guy meets his idol, jazz pianist Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs), at a jazz club. An experienced studio bassist named Scott Pell (Larry Antonino) joins The Wonders for a live performance on The Hollywood Television Showcase. During the nationally televised prime-time variety show, the words "Careful girls, he's engaged!" are captioned on the screen beneath Jimmy's image (an homage to the caption "Sorry girls, he's married!" for John Lennon on The Ed Sullivan Show). After the show, Jimmy disrupts the Wonders' dressing suite celebration by demanding to know from Faye who suggested they were engaged. As the others listen in horror, Jimmy tells Faye he does not intend to marry her, and Faye brokenheartedly ends their relationship. As everyone but Guy leaves the suite, Guy asks Jimmy why he couldn't have dumped her in Pittsburgh, as he said he should have done as Faye left the suite. Guy's tone of voice is his first overt suggestion that he actually has deeper feelings for Faye. At the recording session, Jimmy is enraged to learn the Wonders are to record mostly songs from the Play-Tone catalog for their album. In an implication that this is his opportunity to teach Jimmy a lesson in humility, White tells Jimmy their Play-Tone contract gives White the final say on the album's material. He promises Jimmy one original song per side of the album but demands "snappy" material, not ballads. Outraged, Jimmy quits the band. Lenny never shows up for the session, having driven to Las Vegas to elope with a Play-Tone secretary/former Playboy Bunny (Lee Everett) after the televised show. White declares the group in breach of contract but assures Guy that those charges will not be pursued legally. White also hints that Guy—whom he obviously respects the most of anyone in the band—should pursue Faye. Del Paxton, who is recording next door, hears Guy's drumming and the two record a jam session. Guy later tells Faye that Del thinks he has potential as a studio musician. He also, finally, takes the opportunity to declare his feelings for her.
In a written epilogue, Guy and Faye marry the following year and raise four children in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where they start a music conservatory and Guy teaches jazz composition. Jimmy rejoins Play-Tone, records three gold albums with a new band, The Heardsmen (a name he originally suggested for the Wonders) and becomes a music producer in Los Angeles. Lenny manages a casino in Laughlin, Nevada, and is "currently single". The bass player is awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained at Khe Sanh while serving in the Marines, and becomes a building contractor in Orlando, Florida.
- Tom Everett Scott as Guy "Shades" Patterson, drums
- Johnathon Schaech as James "Jimmy" Mattingly II, the leader of The One-ders, guitar and lead vocals
- Tom Hanks as Mr. White, the band's second manager (he is briefly addressed as "Andy" by Sol Siler in the film, and the CD liner notes show his initials as "A.M. White")
- Steve Zahn as Leonard "Lenny" Haise, guitar and backing vocals and the "jokester" of the group
- Ethan Embry as "T. B. Player," a.k.a. The Bass Player (character's name is never revealed), bass guitar and backing vocals
- Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Jimmy's girlfriend and the band's "costume mistress"
- Charlize Theron as Tina Powers, Guy's girlfriend
- Bill Cobbs as Del Paxton, Guy's favorite jazz musician
- Giovanni Ribisi as Chad, the band's original drummer
- Obba Babatundé as Lamarr, the Ambassador Hotel bellman
- Chris Ellis as Phil Horace, the band's first manager
- Alex Rocco as Sol Siler, founder of Play-Tone Records
- Chris Isaak as Uncle Bob, Guy's uncle and their first recording engineer
- Larry Antonino as Scott 'Wolfman' Pell
- Holmes Osborne as Mr. Patterson, Guy "Shades" Patterson's strict-but-stupid father. It could be inferred that Guy's desire to leave is because his father is slowly running their appliance store into bankruptcy; he doesn't even pay his daughter for working there.
- Playtone artists
- Robert Torti as Freddy Fredrickson
- Kennya Ramsey, Julie Harkness, and Darlene Dillinger as The Chantrellines
- Chaille Percival as Diane Dane
- Director Jonathan Demme one of the producers of That Thing You Do!, also directed Tom Hanks in his first Oscar-winning role for Philadelphia, and has a cameo as the director of Weekend At Party Pier.
- Comedian Barry Sobel, who co-wrote Hanks' stand-up material for and was featured in the film Punchline, has a cameo as "Goofball" in Weekend at Party Pier.
- Tracy Reiner, who played "Betty Spaghetti" Horn in A League of Their Own and Mary Haise in Apollo 13 (both Tom Hanks movies), has a cameo as Anita, the co-star of Weekend at Party Pier.
- Musician Chris Isaak appears as Uncle Bob who produces the band's first recording, and would later appear as astronaut Edward Higgins White in Tom Hanks' From the Earth to the Moon miniseries.
- Actress Rita Wilson, Hanks' wife, has a small part as Marguerite, the waitress at The Blue Spot jazz club, whose interest in Guy becomes compromised when Guy realises his jazz idol Del Paxton is in the club.
- Tom Hanks' son, Colin, appears as a page at the City of Broadcasting. He can be seen escorting Faye (Liv Tyler) from her car to her seat in the studio audience. His role is slightly expanded in the extended edition DVD.
- Elizabeth Hanks, Hanks' daughter with his first wife, appears as "Bored Girl in Dress Shop".
- Peter Scolari, Tom Hanks' co-star on the '80s sitcom Bosom Buddies, plays Troy Chesterfield, host of The Hollywood Television Showcase.
- Football player/commentator Howie Long appears as Mr. White's driver/partner Lloyd in the extended cut; his part was entirely cut from the theatrical release.
- Bryan Cranston, appears as astronaut Gus Grissom during The Hollywood Television Showcase scenes. He also appeared as Buzz Aldrin in From the Earth to the Moon.
- Clint Howard, the brother of Ron Howard, appears as a KJZZ Disk Jockey. Howard played EECOM Paul Lucas in From the Earth to the Moon and Sy Liebergot in Apollo 13. Both characters were EECOM for the Apollo program, with Paul Lucas being a fictional character.
- Kevin Pollak (Apollo Program Manager Joe Shea in From the Earth to the Moon) appears as Victor 'Boss Vic Koss' Kosslovich
- Gedde Watanabe appears as a Playtone photographer.
- Chris Ellis as Phil Horace, the small-time record producer who gets the band its first radio airplay. Ellis had previously acted in Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, as Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton. He later appeared with Tom Hanks as Agent Hanratty's FBI supervisor in Catch Me If You Can.
- Charlize Theron appears in one of her first film roles as Guy's girlfriend Tina, before the band becomes famous.
- Marc McClure as the Hollywood Showcase Director; McClure had previously acted in Apollo 13 with Hanks, as Flight Director Glynn Lunney
The movie features original music by Hanks, Adam Schlesinger, Rick Elias, Scott Rogness, Mike Piccirillo, Gary Goetzman and Howard Shore. In the movie, The Wonders rise to brief stardom on the strength of "That Thing You Do", a song written as a wistful ballad but which becomes an uptempo rocker during the band's first performance at a talent show. Written and composed for the film by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, and released on the film's soundtrack, the song became a genuine hit for The Wonders in 1996 (the song peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, #22 on the Adult Contemporary charts, #18 on the Adult Top 40, and #24 on the Top 40 Mainstream charts). The track was nominated for a 1996 Golden Globe Award as well as a 1996 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mike Viola of The Candy Butchers provided the distinctive lead vocals for the Wonders.
In the film, the title song is referenced with "All My Only Dreams" as the B-side. The actual 45 RPM single, released to record stores in North America, features "Dance With Me Tonight" as its B-side. The song has since been recorded by The Knack and Bubblegum Lemonade.
The soundtrack album (released under the Play-Tone name in conjunction with Epic Records) was also a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The CD artwork is a replica of the fictional Play-Tone label used in the movie, and the liner notes are done in a mockumentary style, as if the Wonders had been a real group and the events of the film had actually happened.
The song that plays during the film's opening credits, "Lovin' You Lots and Lots", is credited to the fictitious "Norm Wooster Singers", but was actually written by Hanks. This song is a good-natured parody of Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller, and other practitioners of the "beautiful music" or proto-Muzak formats that were a staple of adult radio during the early 60s such as on KPOL (AM)1540 in Los Angeles. Hanks also composed Guy's jazzy signature drum solo, "I Am Spartacus".
Various Internet rumors claim that Hanks based the band from Erie, PA, in homage to a real '60s group from Erie named the "Orange Colored Sky".
Reference to Apollo Program
Hanks wrote in multiple references to the NASA Apollo program. Hanks' most recent live-action blockbuster at the time was Apollo 13, and Hanks was already at work producing the television mini-series From the Earth to the Moon. These include:
- Jimmy Mattingly II - named after Ken Mattingly, the pilot bumped from Apollo 13, but who is instrumental in getting the stricken craft home.
- Lenny Haise - named after Fred Haise, Apollo 13 crew member.
- Marilyn Lovell & The Geminis - fictional band referencing the wife of Jim Lovell, Apollo 13's flight commander, and the crafts that preceded the Apollos into space.
- The Saturn 5 - fictional instrumental group referencing the NASA rockets that launched the Apollo spacecrafts into orbit.
- Virgil "Gus" Grissom - a guest on the "The Hollywood Television Showcase". Gus Grissom was one of three astronauts killed in a mishap on Apollo One.
- Mr. White (Hanks' character) - Ed White was another astronaut killed in the Apollo One mishap.
Reference to The Beatles
Throughout the production of the film, Tom Hanks spoke openly about the similarities between The Wonders and The Beatles. As a purveyor and fan of classic rock, Tom Hanks decided to create subtle yet indistinguishable references between the bands, especially given the era of the film; these include:
- The play-on-words of band name The Oneders (Wonders) and The Beatles (Beetles).
- The rise to fame of both bands after a change in the initial Drummer (Pete Best to Ringo Starr and Chad to Guy, respectively).
- The change in faster tempo to each band's first mega-hit ("Please Please Me" and "That Thing You Do!").
- The subtitled message on the television special referring to the lead band member (Jimmy: "Careful Girls He's Engaged" and "Sorry Girls He's Married", John Lennon)
- The drummer Guy Patterson being given the nickname "Shades" based on the glasses he wears (Richard Starkey getting the nickname "Ringo" because of his rings)
- The illogical title of the B-side "All My Only Dreams" (nonsensical titles of Beatles songs such as "Eight Days A Week" and "A Hard Day's Night")
- The scene in which The Wonders horseplay atop a large map of the United States mirrors a video of The Beatles doing the same.
- One scene has Sol Siler address Mr. White as "Andy" – a possible reference to session drummer Andy White, who appeared on the second (hit) recording of The Beatles' "Love Me Do".
- The band members bow simultaneously after each performance.
- Guy's bass drum has the "Ludwig" trademark above the group's name, just as Ringo Starr's did.
- The sudden disappearance of T.B. Player and the introduction of Scott "Wolfman" Pell on bass right before the Wonders' final performance could be considered a nod to the "Paul Is Dead" rumors which surfaced near the end of the Beatles' active career.
- The Wonders' final performance is the only instance in their career where the three singers - James, Lenny and Wolfman - each had their own microphones, just as the Beatles' final performance (on the roof of Apple Studios) is the only such instance in THEIR career (for John, Paul and George).
In addition, Faye Dolan coming down with flu on The Wonders' flight to California may allude to George Harrison's having contracted flu on the Beatles' first trip to New York, which compelled Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall to stand in for him during Ed Sullivan Show rehearsals.
- "Lovin' You Lots and Lots" - The Norm Wooster Singers
- "That Thing You Do!" - The Wonders
- "Little Wild One" - The Wonders
- "Dance With Me Tonight" - The Wonders
- "All My Only Dreams" - The Wonders
- "I Need You (That Thing You Do)" - The Wonders (The movie credits list this song as being from 'The Heardsmen'.)
- "She Knows It" - The Heardsmen
- "Mr. Downtown" - Freddy Fredrickson
- "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart" - The Chantrellines
- "Voyage Around the Moon" - The Saturn 5
- "My World Is Over" - Diane Dane
- "Drive Faster" - The Vicksburgs
- "Shrimp Shack" - Cap'n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters
- "Time to Blow" - Del Paxton
- "That Thing You Do!" (Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase) - The Wonders
The tour and TV appearance are done in the authentic style of rock bands of the mid-1960s, including Go-Go girls, elaborate sharing of microphones, and formal clothing in various matching colors.
The film was well received by critics and currently holds a 92% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, increasing to 93% when narrowed down to the selected top critics. The movie debuted at No. 3. However it was only moderately successful at the box office, grossing $25,857,416 domestically and $8,728,000 abroad for a worldwide gross of $34,585,416.
That Thing You Do! was first released in mid-1997 on VHS. In 1998, the film became available in the DIVX format (as with all 20th Century Fox films), rather than DVD. DIVX would fail, and the film was finally released onto conventional DVD on June 5, 2001. At the time, it included the featurette "The Making of That Thing You Do!," and two music videos.
Extended Edition DVD
On May 8, 2007, Tom Hanks' Extended Edition was released on DVD. The film's theatrical cut and an extended cut with 39 additional minutes of deleted scenes are included.
Many of the deleted scenes are devoted to character development. A tastefully steamy look at Guy's "make-out" session with Tina at his apartment is included. The extended version also goes more in-depth with Guy's developing relationship with Faye (via mild flirting) and his deteriorating relationship with Tina, as well as Tina's budding relationship with her dentist, Dr. Collins.
2007 DVD repackage re-release
That Thing You Do! was packaged with Bachelor Party and The Man with One Red Shoe in the Tom Hanks Triple Feature DVD anthology set. The actual DVD appears to be the original 2001 disc, with the featurette and music videos.
- Larry Crowne, a 2011 film also directed by Tom Hanks
- ^ a b "That Thing You Do! (1996)". Box Office Mojo. 1996-11-15. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=thatthingyoudo.htm. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- ^ Embry's character is never named, even in the film's credits. He is known simply as "The Bass Player" or "T.B. Player".
- ^ IMDB: "That Thing You Do!" Trivia
- ^ "That Thing You Do: Various Artists: Music". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000002BQE. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- ^ "KPOL Archive #1". Earthsignals.com. http://www.earthsignals.com/Collins/0025/. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117887/trivia?tr=tr0973170
- ^ "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-10-08/entertainment/ca-51781_1_box-office. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- That Thing You Do! at the Internet Movie Database
- That Thing You Do! at AllRovi
- That Thing You Do! at Box Office Mojo
- That Thing You Do! at Rotten Tomatoes
Tom Hanks DirectorThat Thing You Do! (1996) • Larry Crowne (2011) ScreenwriterThat Thing You Do! (1996) • From the Earth to the Moon (1998, 4 episodes) • Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005) • Larry Crowne (2011) ProducerCast Away (2000) • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) • Connie and Carla (2004) • Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005) • Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006) • The Ant Bully (2006) • Starter for 10 (2006) • Charlie Wilson's War (2007) • The Great Buck Howard (2008) • City of Ember (2008) • Where the Wild Things Are (2009) • Larry Crowne (2011) Executive producer Television Production company
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