|That Thing You Do!|
|Directed by||Tom Hanks|
|Written by||Tom Hanks|
|Edited by||Richard Chew|
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$34.6 million|
That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Tom Hanks, in his feature writing and directorial debut. It tells the story of the rise and fall of a fictional 1960s one-hit wonder pop band, and stars Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, and Hanks. The film resulted in a musical hit with the titular song of the same title, which was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
In 1964, Guy Patterson, an aspiring jazz drummer, is working in his family's appliance store in Erie, Pennsylvania, when he is asked by Jimmy and Lenny to perform at a talent show with their band the Oneders to cover for Chad, their regular drummer who broke an arm. At the talent show, Guy launches into a faster tempo for the song "That Thing You Do!". Jimmy is angered, but Guy's tempo wins them the talent show.
They win a paying gig at Villapiano's, a local pizza parlor. When a fan asks for a record, they decide to record the song and sell 45s of it. Local talent promoter Phil Horace notices the band, promising to get them on the radio within 10 days. Lenny convinces the band to sign with him.
Phil gets the song on Pennsylvania radio, and books them at a rock & roll showcase concert in Pittsburgh. Because of technical difficulties, they are booed off the stage. Afterward, Phil brings a dispirited Guy to meet with Mr. White, an A&R representative for Play-Tone Records, who offers the band a contract and becomes their manager. He renames the band "the Wonders", offers them advice on style and presentation (including insisting that the group all wear matching suits and Guy always wear sunglasses), asks them to join the Play-Tone tour of Midwestern state fairs, and suggests Jimmy's girlfriend Faye join the tour maintaining their wardrobe.
During the tour, the Wonders meet other acts, learn about the business, and become better performers. Jimmy spends time with a singer, Diane, while the bassist, T.B., falls for a member of a girl group, the Chantrellines. "That Thing You Do!" garners national radio airplay and the band's popularity soars. Jimmy is itching to return to the studio.
When "That Thing You Do!" reaches number 7 on the Billboard charts, Mr. White sends them to Los Angeles to do publicity, including radio and film appearances. On the day of their appearance on The Hollywood Television Showcase, a nationally televised live variety show, T.B., the bassist, is nowhere to be found, so Mr. White replaces him with an older, experienced session bassist known as "Wolfman". Guy is hungover after meeting his idol, jazz pianist Del Paxton; Jimmy is vomiting due to nerves; Lenny is preoccupied with his new girlfriend. Still, the Wonders manage to cooperate for their television appearance. When television captions introduce the members of the band, Jimmy's caption reads "Careful, girls, he's engaged!"
After the performance, Jimmy lashes out at Faye in the dressing room, insinuating that she was responsible for the "engaged" caption (although White implies that it was him). Jimmy insists he and Faye are not engaged and that he has no intention of proposing. Faye, already disillusioned with Jimmy, breaks up with him. The next day, at a scheduled recording session at Play-Tone's studio, bassist T.B. already joined the marines that August, while Lenny is out in Las Vegas. Mr. White has provided new material for Jimmy and Guy to record, but Jimmy wants to do his original songs. When Mr. White reminds him that the terms of their contract allow Play-Tone to dictate their material, Jimmy quits on the spot. Guy is now the only remaining Wonder. Mr. White assures him that such things are common in the music industry. Guy stays in the recording studio for a while; Del stops by the studio and is impressed with Guy's drumming. Together they improvise a jazz song inspired by Guy called "I Am Spartacus".
Guy returns to the hotel to check out. He tells a dejected Faye that he plans to stay in Los Angeles, while she says she will return to Erie. Faye goes to call a cab, but Guy chases after her and they kiss, finally admitting their long-hidden feelings for one another.
An epilogue reveals that Jimmy became a record producer; Lenny is single, a hotel and casino manager in Nevada; bassist T.B. went to war in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart, then worked in construction in Orlando, Florida; Guy and Faye are married with four children living in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where Guy teaches jazz composition at their own music conservatory.
- Tom Everett Scott as Guy "Skitch" (later "Shades") Patterson, the Wonders' drummer
- Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Jimmy's girlfriend (later Guy's) and the band's costume mistress
- Johnathon Schaech as James "Jimmy" Mattingly II, the Wonders' lead singer and rhythm guitarist
- Steve Zahn as Leonard "Lenny" Haise, the Wonders' lead guitarist
- Ethan Embry as T.B. Player, the Wonders' bass player
- Tom Hanks as Mr. Amos White, a Play-Tone employee who becomes the Wonders' manager
- Charlize Theron as Tina Powers, Guy's former girlfriend who later ended up with her dentist
- Obba Babatundé as Lamarr, concierge of the Ambassador Hotel who befriends the Wonders
- Giovanni Ribisi as Chad, the band's original drummer who injured his arm
- Chris Ellis as Phil Horace, the band's first manager
- Alex Rocco as Sol Siler, founder of Play-Tone Records
- Bill Cobbs as Del Paxton, a jazz pianist and Guy's favorite musician
- Peter Scolari, Troy Chesterfield, film actor and host of The Hollywood Television Showcase
- Rita Wilson, Marguerite, the waitress at The Blue Spot jazz club
- Chris Isaak as Guy's Uncle Bob, a church minister who records the Wonders' songs "That Thing You Do!" and "All My Only Dreams" for release on 45s
- Kevin Pollak as Victor "Boss Vic Koss" Kosslovich, Pittsburgh concert promoter
- Robert Torti as Freddy Fredrickson, a Play-Tone singer
- Chaille Percival as Diane Dane, a Play-Tone singer
- Holmes Osborne as Mr. Patterson, Guy's father and owner of Patterson's Appliance store
- Sean Whalen as a heckler
- Clint Howard as a KJZZ disc jockey
- Kathleen Kinmont as Koss' secretary
- Jonathan Demme as the director of Weekend at Party Pier
- Tracy Reiner as Anita, the co-star of Weekend at Party Pier
- Barry Sobel as "Goofball" in Weekend at Party Pier
- Paul Feig as a KMPC disc jockey
- Gedde Watanabe as a Play-Tone photographer
- Robert Ridgely as the Hollywood Showcase announcer
- Marc McClure as the Hollywood Showcase director
- Bryan Cranston as Virgil "Gus" Grissom, an astronaut who appears as a guest on The Hollywood Television Showcase
- Colin Hanks as a page at the City of Broadcasting
- Larry Antonino as Scott "Wolfman" Pell, a Play-Tone session musician who becomes the Wonders' bass player after T.B. Player leaves for the marines
- Kennya J. Ramsey, Julie L. Harkness, and Darlene Dillinger as the Chantrellines, a Play-Tone girl group
- Howie Long as Mr. White's driver/partner Lloyd in the extended cut; his part was entirely cut from the theatrical release.
Production and music
The film features original music by Tom Hanks, Adam Schlesinger, Rick Elias, Scott Rogness, Mike Piccirillo, Gary Goetzman and Howard Shore. In the film, 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 number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 22 on the Adult Contemporary charts, number 18 on the Adult Top 40, and number 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 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, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Bubblegum Lemonade. The Wonders are also seen playing the song "Little Wild One". This was written by the band Gigolo Aunts as a "faux-Beatles"-style tune at the request of their record label to be submitted for consideration for inclusion in the film.
To perform the Wonders' songs convincingly on-camera, Scott, Schaech, Zahn and Embry took several weeks of individual lessons, followed by daily practice as a group. Of the four, only Zahn and Embry had any prior experience of playing their assigned instruments. They eventually honed their performance to the point where extras on the set thought they were actually playing the songs, when in reality they were miming along to recordings by professional musicians.
The song that plays during the film's opening credits, "Lovin' You Lots and Lots", is credited to the fictitious Norm Wooster Singers and was actually written by Hanks. This song is a send-up 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 1960s such as on KPOL (AM) 1540 in Los Angeles. Hanks also composed Guy's jazzy signature drum solo, "I Am Spartacus".
The Wonders' bassist (played by Ethan Embry) is unnamed in the film; in the end credits, he is credited as "T.B. Player". This is short for "the Bass Player", and is a joke based on the perception that bass players are often unknown and unappreciated. Embry later provided his own take on the character's real name: "I just said my name was Tobias, because he's such a Tobias. You just take the vowels out [and it's T.B.] His nickname was Toby, but his mom calls him Tobias. And his last name actually was Player, because he was a player, dude! That carousel ride with the Chantrellines? Total player."
The real Wonders
There were at least two real groups named the Wonders who made the record charts at various radio stations in the early 1960s. One was a soul group who had a record called "Please Don't Cry" (b/w "With These Hands"; Bamboo 523) that was cited in the September 1, 1962, issue of Billboard as having "moderate sales potential", but it was not successful. (The flip, however, was played by KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the fall of 1962.)
The other Wonders had a regional hit record called "Say There" (b/w "Marilyn"; Colpix 699), released in August 1963. A mixed race doo wop group from New York City, they also recorded as the Satans Four [sic]. "Say There" hit the Top 20 at WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, and made the top 30 at KQV in Pittsburgh. In addition, the tune made the radio publication The Gavin Report as a regional hit in their August 16, 1963 issue.
The soundtrack album (released under the Playtone 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 Playtone 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. Hanks later used the success of That Thing You Do! as a springboard to launch the actual Playtone Records label, through which the soundtracks of all his subsequent films, as well as other films such as Bring It On and television programs such as The Sopranos, were released as albums.
|1.||"Lovin' You Lots and Lots"||Tom Hanks||The Norm Wooster Singers||1:54|
|2.||"That Thing You Do!"||Adam Schlesinger||The Wonders||2:47|
|3.||"Little Wild One"||David Gibbs, Steve Hurley, Phil Hurley, Fred Elringham||The Wonders||2:30|
|4.||"Dance With Me Tonight"||Scott Rogness, Rick Elias||The Wonders||2:05|
|5.||"All My Only Dreams"||Rogness, Elias||The Wonders||2:54|
|6.||"I Need You (That Thing You Do)" (The movie credits list this song as being from the Heardsmen.)||Rogness, Elias, Linda Elias||The Wonders||2:53|
|7.||"She Knows It"||Rogness, Elias||The Heardsmen||3:01|
|8.||"Mr. Downtown"||Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Mike Piccirillo||Freddy Fredrickson||2:32|
|9.||"Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart"||Hanks, Goetzman, Piccirillo||The Chantrellines||3:11|
|10.||"Voyage Around the Moon"||Hanks, Goetzman, Piccirillo||The Saturn 5||3:04|
|11.||"My World Is Over"||Piccirillo||Diane Dane||3:01|
|12.||"Drive Faster"||Rogness, Elias||The Vicksburgs||2:48|
|13.||"Shrimp Shack"||Piccirillo||Cap'n Geech & the Shrimp Shack Shooters||2:22|
|14.||"Time To Blow"||Steve Tyrell, Robert Mann||Del Paxton||4:20|
|15.||"That Thing You Do! (Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase)"||Schlesinger||The Wonders||2:54|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000‡|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on reviews from 62 critics, with an average rating of 7.30/10. The site's consensus reads, "A light, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining debut for director Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 71 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Emanuel Levy of Variety called it "A top-notch production, exuberant period music and Hanks the actor in an important role cunningly disguise a rather slight and inconsequential narrative." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 and wrote: "The movie may be inconsequential, but in some ways that's a strength. Without hauling in a lot of deep meanings, it remembers with great warmth a time and a place."
|20/20 Awards||Best Song||"That Thing You Do!"
Music and Lyrics by Adam Schlesinger
|Academy Awards||Best Original Song||Nominated|
|American Comedy Awards||Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture||Tom Hanks||Nominated|
|Artios Awards||Best Casting for Feature Film – Comedy||John Lyons||Won|
|California on Location Awards||Production Company of the Year – Features||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Original Score||Howard Shore||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Song||"That Thing You Do!"
Music and Lyrics by Adam Schlesinger
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Song||Nominated|
|Online Film & Television Association Awards||Best Original Song||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Original Song||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Family Feature – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
The film is recognized by the American Film Institute in this list:
The Erie SeaWolves hosted Wonders Night on September 4, 2021, at UPMC Park. Cast members Johnathon Schaech, Tom Everett Scott, and Steve Zahn traveled to Erie for the occasion and participated in a panel discussion, autograph session, and elements of the ballgame presentation. Cast member Ethan Embry joined the panel discussion virtually. As a result of funds collected from VIP experiences as well as memorabilia and jersey auctions, the 25th anniversary event raised $25,500 for Notice Ability, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students with dyslexia. Additional donations were made to Notice Ability, bringing the total sum raised to nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Wonders Night also earned the SeaWolves Promotion of the Year recognition by Ballpark Digest.
After DIVX failed, the film was released on DVD on June 5, 2001. 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. It also suggests that the character portrayed by Tom Hanks (Mr. White) is not only gay but in a relationship with a man played by former NFL defensive lineman Howie Long.
More camera time is also devoted to the tryst between the bass player and one of the singers of the Chantrellines. In the theatrical cut, this romance was depicted mainly as an unrequited crush on the part of the bass player; in the extended cut it is clearly shown that his efforts were successful.
At the end of the Extended Edition, rather than becoming a studio drummer on the recommendation of Del Paxton, Guy becomes a disc jockey for the jazz station KJZZ and records a documentary series of interviews with legendary jazz musicians.
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.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray on April 2, 2013. The Blu-ray includes the Theatrical and Extended cuts as well as all of the bonus features found on the two-disc DVD.
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- Wright, Jarah (November 8, 2021). "2021 Promotion of the Year: The Wonders reunite at Erie SeaWolves game". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
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