That Thing You Do! (1996)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Rock Musical, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 4, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Tom Hanks was arguably the most beloved American actor of the '90s. He usually played likable characters, and for his directorial debut, Hanks created a film that is like his performances. The cast of That Thing You Do ingratiates themselves to the audience with ease. Thomas Everett Scott (who physically resembles the director) invests Guy with such a sense of amazement at his own success that the audience can't help but be brought along for the ride. Jonathan Schaech gives Jimmy a cold, calculating quality that makes it easy to believe he would be capable of writing something as aggressively catchy as the title tune. Hanks himself plays a seen-it-all-before record company executive who, though all business, hasn't lost his heart.

Written by Adam Schlesinger, the fiendishly catchy title tune evokes the British invasion of the early '60s without sounding like a retread of any particular song. Even if one doesn't like the song, it is impossible to deny that it sounds like a hit record. The verisimilitude of the music, the charm of the performers, and the attention to detail outweigh the more clich├ęd aspects of the story just enough to make That Thing You Do an enjoyable tale of rock & roll success, like an episode of Behind the Music without the debauchery.