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That Thing You Do! is a 1996 film written and directed by Tom Hanks. Set in the summer of 1964, the movie tells the story of a one-hit wonder rock band, called The Wonders, following their whirlwind rise to the top of the pop charts, and just as quickly, their dissolution. The film also resulted in a real life musical hit with the song, "That Thing You Do".


The film follows the career of an Erie, Pennsylvaniamarker, rock band that formed at the beginning of the British Invasion in 1964. Former peacetime army serviceman Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott), who now works at his father's appliance store in Erie, Pennsylvania, is a good drummer who idolizes jazz and is involved in a shallow relationship with Tina Powers (Charlize Theron in one of her first major motion picture roles.)

Guy is asked by rhythm guitarist/singer Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech) and lead guitarist/singer Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn) to substitute at that night's annual Mercyhurst Collegemarker talent show, for their unnamed beat group's regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Ribisi) - who has broken his arm. Rounding out the group is the bass player (Ethan Embry), whose character is never named, even in the movie's credits. (He is known simply as "The Bass Player" or "T. B. Player", an in-joke on the anonymity of session musicians. ) They are to play a ballad written by Jimmy (and as Jimmy admits, by Lenny, uncredited) titled "That Thing You Do," which they rehearse in Jimmy's parent's garage. At the suggestion of Jimmy's "sort-of" girlfriend Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler), inspired by a comment from Guy, they adopt the name "The Oneders" (pronounced "ONE-ders"), but it is almost always mispronounced as the "oh-NEE-ders."

At the talent show, Guy sets up a pounding beat substantially faster than its original ballad tempo. Although the rest of band struggles at first to keep up, the crowd instantly gets up to dance to it, and the band adjusts quickly. They overwhelmingly win the $100 top prize, and within minutes they get their first paying gig, at a pizza parlor near the airport named Villapianos.

After a fan requests their record, The Oneders enlist the help of Guy's Uncle Bob (Chris Isaak), who records songs and sermons for churches and choirs, to record and cut the song on vinyl, which Faye subsequently sells at their gigs. Talent scout Phil Horace (Chris Ellis) sees them play, buys a copy of their record, and introduces himself to Guy at the appliance store. Based on Horace's promise that he will get them radio airplay and performance bookings in big cities like Pittsburghmarker and Steubenville, Ohiomarker, The Oneders sign his standard management contract, despite Jimmy's initial reluctance to assign rights to his music.

Horace is successful: "That Thing You Do" is played three times in one day on local Erie station WJET to the band's shocked pleasure, as they riotously celebrate in Guy's father's appliance store. The Oneders are booked at a major gig in Pittsburgh, sponsored by well-known mattress salesman and pompous rock music promoter "Boss Vic Koss" (Kevin Pollak). Although their first set is a failure due to a series of technical mishaps, Horace has secretly arranged for a record company A&R man, Mr. White (Hanks) to see the show. Mr. White is impressed by their record, and he buys the band's contract, signs the band to his employer (the Play-Tone record label), changes the spelling of their name to 'The Wonders', and decides that Guy should always wear sunglasses on stage and be known as "Shades" as his "trademark". He also arranges for Faye to accompany the band as "wardrobe mistress." As the Wonders go on tour and start to make it big, Tina, Guy's girlfriend, (not very impressed with Guy's newfound semi-stardom) falls in love with her handsome new dentist and without telling Guy, dumps the drummer for her new infatuation.

Alongside the other Play-Tone stable of artists, the band tours state fairs across the Midwest. Their single enters and climbs the Billboard Top 100. As the tour progresses, The Wonders go from being the opening act to the feature attraction, even earning band-specific stage decorations. Throngs of teenage girls mob the band at one tour stop. While on tour, the movie implies that Jimmy engages in a secret affair with aging siren Diane Dane (Chaille Percival). When "That Thing You Do" hits the Top 10, the band is ordered to leave the tour in Wisconsin and head for Hollywoodmarker to meet Sol Siler (Alex Rocco), the owner of Play-Tone, for a promotional photo shoot. While leaving the Wisconsin state fair, a security guard stops Faye from accompanying the group (similar to a real incident that happened to Cynthia Lennon in August 1967), but Guy comes back for her. On the airplane, White announces that the band also will be appearing in a major motion picture and, at Jimmy's urging, doing a recording session for an album, while Faye comes down with a severe cold, much to Guy's concern. Meanwhile, in Erie, original drummer Chad has taken Guy's place as a salesman at Patterson's Appliance.

The Wonders then appear as "Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters" in a film, Weekend at Party Pier, that is actually a beach movie, and Siler turns out to neither know nor care anything about the record business, preferring to discuss himself. Jimmy becomes disillusioned and sulks. During an off day, the bass player abandons the band to visit Disneylandmarker with a group of United States Marines, whose ranks he had previously committed to join. Alone, Guy goes to a jazz club, where he meets his idol, jazz pianist Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs), and drinks with him until closing time. The next day, experienced studio bassist Scott "Wolfman" Pell (Larry Antonino) joins The Wonders for a live performance on The Hollywood Television Showcase. During the nationally televised prime-time show, the words "Careful girls, he's engaged!" are captioned on the screen beneath Jimmy's image (an homage to "Sorry girls, he's married!" to John Lennon on The Ed Sullivan Show). After the show, an angry Jimmy rudely tells a stunned Faye and the rest of the band that he is not engaged and that he doesn't intend to marry Faye. Hurt by Jimmy's shocking callousness and insensitivity, Faye denounces Jimmy and ends their relationship.

At the recording session the next day, The Wonders learn that they are to record songs from the Play-Tone catalog for their album. White promises Jimmy one original song per side of the album but makes it clear that he wants "snappy" material, not ballads. Jimmy promptly quits the band and walks out. Lenny never shows up for the session, having driven to Las Vegas with a Play-Tone secretary/Playboy Bunny after the previous nights televised show and married her. White thanks Wolfman for coming, and Wolfman leaves. With the departure of everyone but Guy, White declares the group in breach of contract. White expresses to Guy that Lenny is "the fool" and Jimmy is "the talent" but Guy is "the smart one," and asks about Faye (whom White says "is special"), then leaves. Guy remains in the recording studio alone — his first time in one — and his impromptu drumming catches the ear of Del Paxton, who is recording next door. The two record a jam session where Guy plays a drum routine titled "I Am Spartacus" while Del improvises an accompanying piano part.

Back at their L.A. hotel, Guy tells Faye that Del thinks he can make it as a session musician in L.A., and Faye and Guy finally declare their love for one another. (In the "director's cut" of the film, the jam session results in a job for Guy at jazz radio station KJZZ, which had earlier interviewed the Wonders. That's how Guy becomes a "permanent West Coast-er.")

In a written epilogue, Guy and Faye remain in Los Angeles, marry the following year and raise four children before moving to Bainbridge Island, Washingtonmarker, where they found a music conservatory where Guy teaches jazz composition. Jimmy rejoins Play-Tone and records three gold albums with a new band called The Heardsmen (which was Jimmy's original choice to name The Wonders) and eventually becomes a music Producer. Lenny manages a casino in Laughlin, Nevadamarker, and he is "currently single". The Bass Player is awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained at Khe Sanhmarker while serving in the Marines and eventually becomes a building contractor in Orlando, Floridamarker.



The movie features original music by Hanks, Adam Schlesinger, Rick Elias, Scott Rogness, Mike Piccirillo, Gary Goetzman and Howard Shore. In the movie, The Wonders rise to brief stardom on the strength of "That Thing You Do", a song written as a wistful ballad but which becomes an uptempo rocker during the band's first performance at a talent show. Written and composed for the film by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, and released on the film's soundtrack, the song became a genuine hit for The Wonders in 1996 (the song peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, #22 on the Adult Contemporary charts, #18 on the Adult Top 40, and #24 on the Top 40 Mainstream charts). The track was nominated for the 1996 Golden Globe Award as well as the 1996 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mike Viola of The Candy Butchers provided the distinctive lead vocals for the Wonders.

In the film, the title song is referenced with "All My Only Dreams" as the B-side. The actual 45 RPM single, released to record stores in North America, features "Dance With Me Tonight" as its B-side. The song has since been recorded by The Knack and Bubblegum Lemonade.

The soundtrack album (released under the Play-Tone name in conjunction with Epic Records) was also a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Top 200. The CD artwork is a replica of the fictional Play-Tone label used in the movie, and the liner notes are done in a mockumentary style, as if the Wonders had been a real group and the events of the film had actually happened.

The song that plays during the film's opening credits, "Lovin' You Lots and Lots", is credited to the fictitious "Norm Wooster Singers" but was actually written by Hanks. This song is a good-natured parody of Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller, and other practitioners of proto-muzak.

Soundtrack listing

  1. "Lovin' You Lots And Lots" - The Norm Wooster Singers
  2. "That Thing You Do!" - The Wonders
  3. "Little Wild One" - The Wonders
  4. "Dance With Me Tonight" - The Wonders
  5. "All My Only Dreams" - The Wonders
  6. "I Need You (That Thing You Do)" - The Wonders
  7. "She Knows It" - The Heardsmen
  8. "Mr. Downtown" - Freddy Fredrickson
  9. "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart" - The Chantrellines
  10. "Voyage Around The Moon" - The Saturn 5
  11. "My World Is Over" - Diane Dane
  12. "Drive Faster" - The Vicksburgs
  13. "Shrimp Shack" - Cap'n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters
  14. "Time To Blow" - Del Paxton
  15. "That Thing You Do!" (Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase) - The Wonders

The tour and TV appearance are done in the authentic style of rock bands of the mid-1960s, including Go-Go girls, elaborate sharing of microphones, and formal clothing in various matching colors. Homages to various groups of the era appear, such as a A Hard Day's Night-style vignette in which the band clowns across a map of the United Statesmarker and races a horse, and the band's performance style changes to resemble the Dave Clark Five (a group admired by producer Hanks).


The film was well received by critics and currently holds a 91% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, increasing to 93% when narrowed down to the selected top critics. However it was only moderately successful at the box office, grossing $25,857,416 domestically and $8,728,000 foreignly for a worldwide gross of $34,585,416.


  • Comedian Barry Sobel, who co-wrote Tom Hanks' stand-up material for and was featured in the film Punchline, has a cameo as "Goofball" in Weekend at Party Pier.

  • Actress Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks' wife) has a small part as "Marguerite" the waitress at The Blue Spot jazz club.

  • Tom Hanks' son, Colin, appears as a page at the City of Broadcasting. He can be seen escorting Faye (Liv Tyler) from her car to her seat in the studio audience. His role is slightly expanded in the extended edition DVD.

  • Actor Peter Scolari, Tom Hanks' co-star on the '80s sitcom Bosom Buddies, plays "Troy Chesterfield", host of The Hollywood Television Showcase.

  • Football player/commentator Howie Long appears as Mr. White's driver/"partner" Lloyd in the extended cut of the movie, released on DVD in 2007. His part was entirely cut from the theatrical release.

  • Clint Howard, the brother of Ron Howard, appears as a KJZZ Disk Jockey. Howard played EECOM "Paul Lucas" in From the Earth to the Moon, and as Sy Liebergot in Apollo 13. Both characters were EECOM for the Apollo program, with Paul Lucas being a fictional character.

  • Kevin Pollak appears as Victor 'Boss Vic Koss' Kosslovich. He also played Apollo Program Manager Joe Shea in From the Earth to the Moon.

  • Charlize Theron in one of her first film roles, as Guy Patterson's girlfriend before the band becomes famous

  • Marc McClure as the Hollywood Showcase Director. McClure had previously acted in Apollo 13 with Hanks, as Flight Director Glynn Lunney

  • Elizabeth Hanks, Tom Hanks' daughter with his first wife, appears as "Bored Girl in Dress Shop".

Home media

Initial release

That Thing You Do! was first released in mid-1997 on VHS. In 1998, the film became exclusively available (digitally) on the DIVX format (as with all 20th Century Fox films). DIVX would quickly fail, and the film was finally released onto conventional DVD on June 5, 2001. At the time, it included the featurette "The Making of That Thing You Do!," and two music videos.

Extended Edition DVD

On May 8, 2007, Tom Hanks' Extended Edition was released on DVD. The film's theatrical cut and an extended cut with 39 additional minutes of deleted scenes are included.

Many of the deleted scenes are devoted to character development. A tastefully steamy look at Guy's "make-out" session with Tina at his apartment is included, as the movie "Spartacus" plays on his television in the background. It is in this deleted scene that we see the origin of Guy's catch-phrase "I am Spartacus." (The deletion of this scene rendered his subsequent numerous repetitions of the phrase semi-senseless.) Other scenes further explore Guy's developing relationship with Faye via mild flirting, and his deteriorating relationship with Tina, while also showing more of Tina's budding relationship with her dentist, Dr. Collins.

Other extra scenes also include the band's post-talent show rehearsals in an Erie garage, Jimmy's pleading to get "All My Only Dreams" (the B-side of the single) recorded by Uncle Bob, a food fight - as three of the band members play wildly - at Villapiano's in which Faye (standing well to the rear of the club) squeals with laughter as her offended boyfriend Jimmy demands they leave, their awestruck response to first entering the Orpheum Theatre in Pittsburghmarker and their less-than-pleasant encounter there with "Boss Vic Koss", who is actually an obnoxious mattress store owner. During the Play-Tone tour, the bass player is seen in an interracial fling with a member of The Chantrellines. On the jet to L.A., we see that Mr. White has an interesting collection of pills, some of which he dispenses to Faye to help her "sleep like a baby." In L.A., Sol Siler falsely claims to the reporters at the photo shoot to have discovered the Wonders, while Mr. White is seemingly involved in a homosexual relationship with the previously-unseen Lloyd (Howie Long). It is also revealed that the Playtone Records secretary whom Lenny falls for is named Kitty.

In the Extended Edition, the most significant change is to the ending. After Guy records "I Am Spartacus" with Del Paxton, he calls KJZZ to tell the DJ (Clint Howard), who interviewed the Wonders earlier and who is also a huge Del Paxton fan, about it. The DJ offers Guy a job as a KJZZ evening DJ and interviewer if Guy can bring back tapes of Del reminiscing, which KJZZ can sell to other stations. Guy is able to record such tapes with Del and his band. Thus, Guy stays in L.A., as he does in the original cut, but he isn't just depending on finding session work; he has an actual job.

An additional disc of extras in the "Extended Edition" include a “Making That Thing You Do” featurette, "The Story Of The Wonders” featurette, a 2007 That Thing You Do! Reunion (featuring Scott, Schaech, Embry and Theron together, and Zahn in a separate interview intercut with the reunion, Tyler and Hanks are not included) "The Wonders – Big in Japan” featurette, and “The Making of That Thing You Do!HBO first look. Also included are TV spots and theatrical trailers.

The Extended Edition contained an "easter egg": on Disk One's main menu using the directional keys on your remote you can highlight the SPEED DIAL for the LP to play the theme at all three speeds.

2007 DVD repackage re-release

That Thing You Do was packaged with Bachelor Party and The Man with One Red Shoe in the Tom Hanks Triple Feature DVD anthology set. The actual DVD appears to be the original 2001 disc, with the featurette and music videos.

See also



External links

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