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That Thing You Do

Selection for the Weekend of
December 1 - 3, 2000

We have become a media savvy society. Arguments over public policy no longer center around what is right or wrong, but around analysis of what is the best public relations move. If you don't believe it, just look at the Florida recount coverage or the impeachment scandal. Even common everyday people have an opinion about how Gore's statement or Bush's actions came off in the press. Worse yet, common everyday people know exactly how they are supposed to act and what they are supposed to say if their 15 minutes of fame are thrust upon them. That's why I find That Thing You Do such a refreshing and entertaining look at a simpler time in our society.

Set in 1964, the movie takes a look at a fictional rock and roll band, from Erie, Pennsylvania, The Wonders. They are a local hit and even get to play in Pittsburgh, which is more than they ever thought possible. However, after toiling away in small venues around Erie and Pittsburgh, they are discovered by PlayTone record label A & R man Mr. White (Tom Hanks). Soon they are off on a nation wide tour and their record is shooting up the charts.

The band enjoys a meteoric rise, but can the ride last? Can they handle success?

Writer and director Tom Hanks doesn't try to do anything fancy or groundbreaking with his first film, he just makes an enjoyable film with likable characters and a good plot. The audience can't help but root for these four naïve, good-hearted kids who get a chance to live a life beyond their wildest dreams. Tom Everett Scott as Guy "Shades" Patterson and Steve Zahn as Lenny best convey this.

Guy is the "Ringo Starr" of the band. The Wonders have a drummer (Giovanni Ribisi who is the "Peter Best" of the band) who gets hurt and is replaced by Guy, who quickly becomes the new leader when they start having some success. He loves music, especially jazz, and can't believe his good fortune when he gets a chance to play music for living instead of being stuck in his Father's department store. Guy understands the business side of his new found fame, while others resent it, and he even finds love.

Lenny is the guitar player who just goes with the flow. He's happy playing the school dance. He's happier touring state fairs. He's ecstatic to be on TV. No matter the situation, he finds something good about it.

This one has a little of everything - the underdogs fighting to succeed, a love story, conflict between two men who want to control the band, and a snappy soundtrack. Fortunately, Hanks knows how to put it all together for our enjoyment.

Grade: A

Directed and Written by Tom Hanks

Tom Everett Scott ....….. Guy Patterson

Liv Tyler ………………. Faye Dolan

Johnathon Schaech ……. James 'Jimmy' Mattingly II

Steve Zahn ……………. Lenny Haise

Tom Hanks …………… Mr. White

Charlize Theron ………...Tina

Obba Babatundé ……….Lamarr

Giovanni Ribisi ..………..Chad

Bill Cobbs ……………...Del Paxton

Chris Isaak ……………..Uncle Bob

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