That Thing You Do!

I went to work and had a productive day.  I stopped to buy a hamburger, and then I got home and sat down to watch “That Thing You Do!”  It was about a group of young men who play together as a rock band called The Wonders in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1964.  The drummer Guy is played by Tom Everett Scott, Johnathon Schaech is lead singer Jimmy, Steve Zahn is the guitarist Lenny, and Ethan Embry is the bass player.  Liv Tyler is likable as Faye, Jimmy’s girlfriend and superfan of the band.  Charlize Theron is Guy’s love interest, but she doesn’t spend much time on the screen.  Rita Wilson, Jonathan Demme, and Bryan Cranston also have parts in the movie.  As there were many parallels between The Wonders and The Beatles, watching this movie made me think of The Rutles.  Jimmy had a stance like John Lennon on the stage.  Tom Hanks played Mr. White, the manager of The Wonders, and I was struck by how young he still looked in 1996.  Hanks was the writer and director, although he wasn’t quite on the level of Orson Welles.  I thought that the part of the movie that was the most fun was that initial bit of success the band had.  Faye hears the song on the radio for the first time, and it’s the most joyous moment for all the characters.  Like every success story, the struggle is the most interesting part.  After the success, the situation begins to rot.  The story goes downhill when White takes the band off the state fair tour and takes them out to California.  The way that this story was progressing over the course of a few months reminded me of the grotty scene with George Harrison in “A Hard Day’s Night.”  I thought a big flaw in the script and direction was that we could tell rather easily what is going to happen with Faye.  I thought the ending was too tidy.  The postscript on the characters reminded me of “American Graffiti.”  I thought this was an amusing movie.  It had some life to it, and the music was decent.  I don’t know what happened with Hanks and “Larry Crowne.”  Hanks had positive things to say about his two years at Chabot College.  I looked up the credits of Tom Everett Scott, and aside from his television work, his two notable movies were “An American Werewolf in Paris” and “La La Land.”  Johnathon Schaech was in “Finding Graceland” with Harvey Keitel, Bridget Fonda, and Gretchen Mol.  Steve Zahn was in “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sunshine Cleaning,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” and “Captain Fantastic.”  Ethan Embry was in “Vegas Vacation” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”  The cut of “That Thing You Do!” that I saw was not the extended version that showed Howie Long.  Time would be better spent just seeing “A Hard Day’s Night” again, but this is a movie that you can see with a friend and take pleasure in talking about it.  Some of the people who died on June 1 include James Buchanan (1868), Lizzie Borden (1927), Leslie Howard (1943), Sonny Boy Williamson (1948), Helen Keller (1968), David Ruffin (1991), Hank Ketcham (2001), and Ann B. Davis (2014).  Today is a birthday for Alanis Morissette (43), Ronnie Wood (7), and Morgan Freeman (80).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for June 1, Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of his own “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” starring James Stewart and Doris Day, was released in 1956.  In 1985, the Number One album on the charts was Prince’s “Around the World in a Day.”  In 1990, Paul Verhoeven’s “Total Recall,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, was released.  Today would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 91st birthday.

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