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That Thing You Do! (1996, Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler)

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Tom Hanks and Kevin Costner share the James Stewart image, and each used their celebrity to develop pet projects. Whereas Dances with Wolves was an epic cultural tract, That Thing You Do! is a piece of entertaining bubblegum which, like its director, making his feature directorial debut, is high on charm and style.

Enthusiastic jazz drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott) is given a chance to shine when his friends Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn) persuade him to join their band. They are christened ‘The Oneders’ and win a talent show. They build a devoted local following, enabling them to cut the title track.

Horace (Chris Ellis) becomes their manager and arranges a meeting with the owner of Play-Tone records, Mr White (Hanks). He offers to sell the record nationwide and put them on tour and moulds their image, changing their name to The Wonders and building a stage persona for each member. Success beckons, but not before the boys have found out that fame has consequences that could tear them apart.

The novice director surrounded himself with familiar faces, including his wife Rita Wilson and former co-star Peter Scolari, who paired up with Hanks in their cross-dressing sitcom debut Bosom Buddies . An accomplished crew included George Lucas’s editor and Oliver Stone’s production designer, with maestro Jonathan Demme producing and advising (and appearing in a cameo).

Ethan Embry was the only member of The Wonders with musical experience. He is also the victim of the film’s best throwaway gag, being anonymous throughout and credited only as The Bass Player. Co-star Liv Tyler has music in her blood: she was raised by Todd Rundgren before being told that Steve Tyler, lead singer with Aerosmith, was her father. She later appeared in the band’s videos.

production details
USA | 108 minutes | 1996

Writer and Director: Tom Hanks
Script: Tom Hanks,

cast
Tom Everett Scott as Guy Patterson
Johnathon Schaech as Jimmy Mattingly
Tom Hanks as Mr. White
Steve Zahn as Lenny Haise
Ethan Embry as T.B. Player
Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan
Charlize Theron as Tina
Bill Cobbs as Del Paxton
Giovanni Ribisi as Chad
Obba Babatundé as Lamarr
Alex Rocco as Sol Siler
Chris Isaak as Uncle Bob
Holmes Osborne as Mr. Patterson
Chris Ellis as Phil Horace
Peter Scolari as Troy Chesterfield
Rita Wilson as Margueritte
Kevin Pollak as Victor ‘Boss Vic Koss’ Kosslovich
Robert Torti as Freddy Fredrickson
Claudia Stedelin as Mrs. Patterson
Dawn Maxey as Darlene Patterson
Jonathan Demme as Major Motion Picture Director
Paul Feig as KMPC DJ
Bryan Cranston as Virgil “Gus” Grissom
Colin Hanks as Male Page
Sarah Koskoff as Chrissy Thomkins
Clint Howard as KJZZ Disk Jockey
Sean Whalen as Heckler
Janette Andrade as groupee

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