That Thing You Do - * * *

Tom Hanks directs this gleeful salute to rock-and-roll, innocence and fame. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is an ordinary guy who works in his father’s appliance store by day, and plays drums and listens to jazz albums at night. When the drummer in his friends’ band breaks his arm, Guy is tapped to replace him right before the band’s big break at a local talent show. The band, the One-Ders, is led by Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), the lead singer and songwriter. Lenny (Steve Zahn) is the smartaleck of the foursome, and The Bass Player (Ethan Embry) is a soon-to-be marine. The One-Ders’ song That Thing You Do is a slow love ballad until Guy doubles the pace at the talent show, turning it into a peppy rock-n-roll tune. Before they know it, the One-Ders have a hit record, a new name (The Wonders), and a new manager, Mr. White of Play-Tone records (Tom Hanks). That Thing You Do manages to convey the sheer joy and the head-spinning unrealness of a newcomer being immersed into fame for the very first time. It’s a fun film to watch…they’ve even managed to make the title tune catchy enough that it doesn’t get tiring, even though it’s repeated several times throughout the film. In his first outing as a director, Tom Hanks manages to convey the atmosphere of the rock-and-roll world of 1964, even though he doesn’t take many risks. The rest of the cast, virtual unknowns, do well, especially Tom Everett Scott as the Tom Hanksish drummer. The cast member who is the most known, Liv Tyler, as Jimmy’s girlfriend, is the least satisfying. Tyler turns in a one-note performance, and is encumbered by some of the film’s most awkward dialogue. Still, the film has a contagiously exuberant atmosphere, and you’ll most likely leave the theater happily humming the title tune.

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