That Thing You Do!

Watch That Thing You Do!

"The Fab Four without the Mop Tops"
  • PG
  • 1996
  • 1 hr 48 min
  • 7.0  (73,482)
  • 71

That Thing You Do! is a light-hearted, fun movie that takes audiences back to the simpler times of the 1960s. It tells the story of how one hit song can change a small town band's fortunes overnight. Set in Erie, Pennsylvania, the film's main protagonist is a musician and lead singer named Guy Patterson, played by Tom Everett Scott. Guy's love of music is witnessed in the opening scene of the movie when he is shown playing along to the track on the radio with his drumsticks. He dreams of making it big in the music industry and regularly hangs around music shops, trying out different instruments and dreaming of becoming a star.

One day, Guy gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is asked to fill in for a drummer in a local band, The Oneders. Their manager, played by Tom Hanks, takes a chance on Guy, and he becomes the missing piece in their puzzle. The band is made up of lead guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech), bassist/vocalist Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn), and rhythm guitarist/vocalist T.B. Player (Ethan Embry), who are all childhood friends.

Guy instantly fits in with the band, and his passion for music and drive to succeed lifts the band's morale. Soon enough, they create an invigorating new track, "That Thing You Do!," which ends up becoming a local hit. As the song climbs the charts, The Oneders slowly mature and become The Wonders; the new name reflecting how far they've come since Guy joined the band.

At this point, the movie shifts from a small-town story to a true-blue rock ‘n’ roll movie, complete with all the glitz and glamour of the era. The Wonders jet set to places like LA to perform on TV shows and then back to the East Coast for shows at state fairs, including a particularly hilarious gig in front of a group of wise-cracking Marines.

As The Wonders find unexpected success, Guy struggles with the role he plays in the band's dynamic. He is smitten with Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler), the lead singer of a girl group who plays at one of their shows. He begins to question whether he wants to continue to tour with the band, or return home to pursue a steady relationship with Faye. Meanwhile, the band's personal relationships begin to sour under the intense pressure of fame.

The movie's score is rather infectious and features the ear-worm of a titular song, "That Thing You Do." What's remarkable about it is that it's not a mega-hit of a track despite its almost instant growth to fame. It's a catchy tune with a cheeky, ironic chorus that will have the crowds humming along in no time. It won't change your life, but it's definitely a song that will cheer you up.

Director Tom Hanks' eye for detail and style is outstanding. He captures the era perfectly, with the film's eye-candy retro palette and costume design, as well as the impeccable set design that reflects the idealized optimism of the time.

The film's cast is fantastic. Tom Everett Scott delivers an impressive, understated performance as the movie’s central character, while Liv Tyler nimbly fits into her character's rock-and-roll boots with a relatable ease. Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry shine as Lenny and T.B. respectively, with Zahn acting as the film's goofball comic relief as well. And even Charlize Theron, who plays Jimmy's girlfriend, delivers a small but memorable performance as a woman who's got heads turning wherever she goes.

Overall "That Thing You Do!" produced, directed by and starring Tom Hanks, is one of the best feel-good movies of the 90s. It’s a light-hearted movie that captures the spirit of the era with an engaging storyline, solid acting, and irresistible music. If you're looking for a good time movie – this is it!

That Thing You Do! is a 1996 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0 and a MetaScore of 71.

That Thing You Do!
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Where to Watch That Thing You Do!
That Thing You Do! is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent That Thing You Do! for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
    1996
  • MPAA Rating
    PG
  • Runtime
    1 hr 48 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (73,482)
  • Metascore
    71