Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tom Everett Scott, Johnathon Schaech, Tom Hanks, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler, Charlize Theron, Bill Cobbs, Giovanni Ribisi, Obba Babatundé, Alex Rocco, Chris Isaak, Larry Antonino, Holmes Osborne
Written by: Tom Hanks
Directed by: Tom Hanks
MPAA Rating: PG for some language
Running Time: 108
Date: 09/14/1996

That Thing You Do! (1996)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Thousands of Kisses

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Tom Hanks's feature directing debut wouldn't have worked if its title tune hadn't been as satisfyingly sweet as it is. (It was written by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne.) We hear it many times, and it never fails to get the heads bobbing and the toes tapping. Otherwise, That Thing You Do! is an amiable, good-natured take on the rock 'n' roll, rags-to-riches-to-rags formula. It's 1964, and Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) wants to be a jazz drummer but works in his father's appliance store. Some pals in a pop band, Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn), ask him to sit in on a gig after their drummer is injured. He winds up speeding up their song, giving it the punch it needs to be a hit. One of the best jokes has to do with the band's name, the "One-ders," which is continually mispronounced as "the oh-NEED-ers." Hanks comes on board as A&R man Mr. White, fast-talking and with a dose of reality, but still a good guy. Liv Tyler is dewy-eyed and lovely, and shakes things up, as Faye, who is attached to Jimmy but turns Guy's head. Charlize Theron made her official acting debut here, but as a small-minded "pretty girl," unwilling to put up with her man being on the road; thankfully she earned better roles later on. Chris Isaak appears as "Uncle Bob," who first records the band. Hanks wrote the screenplay, and Jonathan Demme co-produced, bringing along his regular cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto, for the film's bright, innocent look.

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