Film Scouts Reviews

"That Thing You Do"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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Oct 9, 1996

"That Thing You Do" is like a box of chocolates: mostly sweet, sometimes mushy, and not good for you as a steady diet. Why the Forrest Gump analogy? Because first-time director Tom Hanks has a supporting role in this film, a reward for being not just a two-time Oscar winner but also being big box office. He even gets to bring his old 'Bosom Buddies' pal Peter Scolari into the production as the man who introduces The Wonders in their first TV appearance. The Wonders are the band at the center of this picture. It's the sixties. Music is changing and new acts come out of nowhere, including Erie, Pennsylvania. Tom Everett Scott, who has that Tom Hanks look to him, is the drummer who takes a ballad from the local college talent show and turns it into a catchy dance hit. The omnipresent Liv Tyler is the lead singer's loyal girlfriend. Johnathon Schaech, the lead singer, looks like he could be Peter Gallagher's brother but is probably best remembered as Winona Ryder's hunky love interest in "How To Make An American Quilt". Comedy is provided by Steve Zahn as Lenny, the guy who comes on to every girl. Then there is the bass player. He is never given a name, but Ethan Embry is well known in Hollywood as the kid in "Defending Your Life" and in "Dutch" before becoming the teen in "Empire Records" with Liv Tyler and in "White Squall" with Jeff Bridges. The rise of the Wonders is fun to watch, doesn't require a lot of probing analysis, and should make a great date movie, especially for Boomers. And everyone will enjoy the cameos by Chris Isaak, Rita Wilson, and Kevin Pollak. The best cameo is the one you might miss: Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme (one of the producers) as the director of the beach movie the Wonders get stuck playing for when they hit LA.

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