Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is a young man who spends his days waiting on nice ladies in his father's appliance shop in Erie, PA. At night, he puts a record on the console stereo, turns up the music, and beats his drums to the tunes. Jazz is his dream. Meanwhile, four other friends are putting together a rock-and-roll group, but just before the big show, their drummer breaks an arm while trying to jump one too many parking meters. Guy is asked if he will sub, and in so doing, begins his career as the main creative force behind The Oneders (later spelt The Wonders), a band that is about to hit the big time.
These unknowns really are finding their way to the top -- both as the fictitious musicians and as aspiring actors in reality. Considering this is the first film project Tom Hanks has written and directed, he takes an incredible risk by casting a virtually nameless group of young people -- yet that's exactly what makes this film so believable. (Liv Taylor, who plays Faye and Charlize Theron in a bit part as a beautiful-but-blithe blonde, have gone on to great acclaim. The four men have also pursued careers in film and TV.)
Capturing the innocence and excitement of trying to break into the music industry, the story of these one-hit wonders is sure to delight anyone who has secretly nurtured a desire for the fame and fortune of showbiz. The movie is also a good pick for family audiences because it holds very little objectionable content, with just a few minor expletives, some mild innuendos and a couple of implied sexual relationships. Perhaps the biggest concern will be the frequent social drinking (one character is depicted as drunk and later hung-over), and smoking (a common occurrence in the time period in which the film is set.)
Full of sixties memorabilia and styles that are sure to have your teens chuckling, Tom Hanks' scriptwriting and directing efforts appear to be climbing the charts. So, if you are searching for a light and snappy film, chances are this one will be a hit. Just be prepared to hum the band's winning single, "That Thing You Do," for days after watching this movie. (The incredibly catchy tune, which plays umpteen times, was responsible for getting the film an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.)
That Thing You Do: The Extend Cut
Actor/writer/director Tom Hanks releases his hit movie That Thing You Do! to home video in an Extended Cut edition. This unrated, extra-length version now includes a lot more potential content concerns. Capitalizing on the fame that actress Charlize Theron has gone on to enjoy, the extra-length edition puts back numerous scenes featuring her minor character (she plays Tina, Guy's vain girlfriend) that were cut from the theatrical release. Although most of these revolve around a romance with her dentist (an endless array of flirting moments with the good-looking tooth specialist), there is one where she and Guy are shown laying on a couch, while they neck and the young man strokes her bare shoulder (her bra strap is shown). As well, the sexual encounter of another band member is implied and a possible homosexual relationship is alluded to. There are a quite a few more profanities too (usually mild language and terms of deity), plus the depiction of smoking and drinking -- once to the point of passing out.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Following the story of a wannabe rock-and-roll band, the movie may leave the impression that a boyfriend and girlfriend have an on going sexual relationship, and later implies that an unmarried couple are heading into a hotel room for that purpose. The film also contains a some mild sexual innuendo and a few female characters wear low-cut and midriff baring costumes. Language concerns are minimal, with just a couple of minor expletives. Alcohol is consumed in many bars and at social settings, with a character depicted as drinking to excess. As well, the prevalence of smoking during the 1960s is reflected in the many instances of cigar and cigarette use.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
What are the various reasons each of the band members have for wanting to play with the group. What are Faye’s reasons? How do these dissimilar motives affect the way they behave while on tour? How do they impact the future success of the band? Can similar issues plague others who are trying to develop a team spirit?
What are the differences between the way Jimmy and Guy treat Faye? How does this affect her feelings for each of them? Why does it take her so long to notice?
The climb to music industry fame is a common theme in movies. Look for it in Dreamgirls and Ray (based on the life of Ray Charles). The Ambassador Hotel, where the band stays while in LA, has a famous history that is touched upon in the movie Bobby (a recounting of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy).
Home Video Notes
Blu-ray Notes: That Thing You Do!
Release Date: 2 April 2013
That Thing You Do! releases to Blu-ray in package including two versions of the film: Tom Hanks Extended Cut and the Theatrical Version. Parent should note the Extended Cut includes more content concerns that the Theatrical Version does. (See the notes at the bottom of our review.) Other bonus extras on the disc include:
- That Thing You Do! Reunion
- Feel Alright Music Video
- The Wonders! Big In Japan!
- The Story Of The Wonders
- Making That Thing You Do!
- HBO First Look: The Making Of That Thing You Do!
That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks’ Extended Cut
DVD Release Date: 8 May 2007
Actor/writer/director Tom Hanks releases his hit movie That Thing You Do! to DVD in an Extended Cut edition. The 2-disc set also provides the original theatrical release of the film. This will be good news to parents, who may want to share this version of the movie with their children because the new, unrated, extra-length version now includes a lot more potential content concerns.
Other bonus materials (most of which are found on the second disc) include a commentary by actors Tom Everett Scott, Jonathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry and Liv Tyler, and some naval-gazing featurettes, such as Making That Thing You Do!, The Story Of The Wonders, The Wonders - Big In Japan!, and a HBO First Look documentary. In That Thing You Do! Reunion, the principle cast members gather together to reminisce about the movie (and Tom Everett Scott shares his thoughts while doing the love scene with Ms. Theron). Title Song Submissions, Josh Clayton’s music video Feel Alright and the movie trailers round out the offerings.
Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1and DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround).