That Thing You Do! (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

That Thing You Do! (1996)



Critic Consensus: A light, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining debut for director Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity.

That Thing You Do! Photos

Movie Info

Tom Hanks made his directorial debut in this bright comedy set in the mid-1960's about a rock group and their brief fling with fame. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) works as a salesman at his father's appliance store and plays the drums in his spare time, fancying himself a jazz musician. One day, a buddy of Guy's tells him a local rock band, The One-Ders (it's pronounced "wonders"), are in need of a drummer -- they have Battle of the Bands coming up and their usual timekeeper has broken his arm. Guy agrees to sit in, but when it's time to play their best original, a love ballad called "That Thing You Do," Guy lays in a sharp, driving beat that turns the tune into an uptempo pop-rocker. Lead singer Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) isn't happy at first, but guitarist Lenny (Steve Zahn) and the nameless Bass Player (Ethan Embry) think the song sounds better that way -- and they notice the girls like it just fine. Soon people are actually requesting the song at their shows, and the One-Ders scrape together some money to press a single of "That Thing You Do" to sell between sets. A DJ puts the song on the radio, and opportunity knocks in the form of Mr. White (Tom Hanks), who works for the very major Play-Tone Records label. Play-Tone buys the rights to "That Thing You Do" and puts the band on the road as their song makes it way to the top of the national charts. But what can The Wonders (as Play-Tone have re-named them) do for an encore? And what should Guy do about his infatuation with Jimmy's girlfriend, Faye (Liv Tyler)? Real-life 60's obsessed rocker Chris Isaak has a small part as a recording engineer, and fans of real 60's garage bands will appreciate the wealth of small, accurately observed details (for example, halfway through the film, when a few "That Thing You Do" royalty checks have presumably kicked in, the band's inexpensive Danelectro guitars disappear and the Wonders are suddenly playing on brand new Fender gear -- the height of rock style in 1965). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Liv Tyler
as Faye Dolan
Ethan Embry
as Bass Player
Tom Hanks
as Mr. White
Chris Ellis
as Phil Horace
Alex Rocco
as Sol Siler
Bill Cobbs
as Del Paxton
Peter Scolari
as Troy Chesterfield
Rita Wilson
as Marguerite
Chris Isaak
as Uncle Bob
Robert Torti
as Freddy Fredrickson
Kevin Pollak
as Boss Vic Koss
Chaille Percival
as Diane Dane
Holmes Osborne Jr.
as Mr. Patterson
Claudia Stedelin
as Mrs. Patterson
Dawn Maxey
as Darlene Patterson
Jack Milo
as Villapiano
Sean Whalen
as Heckler
Clint Howard
as KJZZ Disc Jockey
Sarah Koskoff
as Chrissy Thompkins
Mark Brettschneider
as Talent Show M.C.
Kathleen Kinmont
as Koss's Secretary
Warren Berlinger
as Polaroid T.V. Host
Clive Rosengren
as Wisconsin Cop
Brittney Powell
as Shades Fan
Jonathan Demme
as Major Motion Picture Director
Erika Greene
as Major Motion Picture A.D.
Barry Sobel
as Goofball
Paul Feig
as KMPC D.J.
Gedde Watanabe
as Play-Tone Photographer
Michael P. Byrne
as Play-Tone Reporter
Dick Corman
as Play-Tone Reporter
Diane McGee
as Play-Tone Reporter
Randy Fechter
as Play-Tone Tour Manager
Mars Callahan
as Disc Master Engineer
Benjamin John Parrillo
as Marine Sergeant
Robert Ridgely
as Hollywood Showcase Announcer
Marc McClure
as Hollywood Showcase Director
Karen Praxel
as Hollywood Showcase Script Supervisor
Paulie DiCocco III
as Hollywood Showcase Floor Manager
Bryan Cranston
as Virgil `Gus' Grissom
Charlie Frye
as Plate Spinner
Colin Hanks
as Male Page
Elizabeth Hanks
as Bored Girl in Dress Shop
Bill Wiley
as Pageant Helper
Cheryl L. Bruton
as Pageant Helper
Heather Hewitt
as Sales Lady
Renee Lippin
as Beautician
Carol Androsky
as Diner Waitress
Ginger Slaughter
as Ambassador Waitress
Robert Wisdom
as Bobby Washington
Larry Antoinio
as Scott `Wolfman' Pell
Kennya J. Ramsey
as Chantrelline
Julie L. Harkness
as Chantrelline
Darlene Dillinger
as Chantrelline
Jennifer York
as Folk Girl
Bethany Hartf
as Folk Girl
Kathy Stuber
as Folk Girl
Steve Billington
as Legends of Brass Member
Andy Duncan
as Legends of Brass Member
Dave Ryan
as Legends of Brass Member
Todd Simon
as Legends of Brass Member
Mike Uhler
as Legends of Brass Member
Marco Villanova
as Legends of Brass Member
Rick Elias
as Play-Tone Band Member
Ted Kramer
as Play-Tone Band Member
Howard Locke
as Play-Tone Band Member
Don Markese
as Play-Tone Band Member
Paula Nichols
as Play-Tone Band Member
Scott Rogness
as Play-Tone Band Member
Angel Sheppard
as Play-Tone Band Member
Wade Short
as Play-Tone Band Member
Scott Strecker
as Play-Tone Band Member
Jimmy Willis
as Play-Tone Band Member
Thomas Cleo
as Saturn 5 Member
Ken Empie
as Saturn 5 Member
Ron Jeffrey
as Saturn 5 Member
Mike Piccirillo
as Saturn 5 Member
Chris Wilson
as Saturn 5 Member
Barth Beasley
as Blue Spot Trio Member
James Leary
as Blue Spot Trio Member
Alphonse Philippe Mouzon
as Blue Spot Trio Member
Kristie J. Canavan
as Wisconsin Dancer
Bethany Chesser
as Wisconsin Dancer
Tara Schwartz
as Wisconsin Dancer
Melissa Hurley
as Wisconsin Dancer
Cherie Hill
as Wisconsin Dancer
Robin Lindsley Allen
as Wisconsin Dancer
Tom Everett Scott
as Guy Patterson
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News & Interviews for That Thing You Do!

Critic Reviews for That Thing You Do!

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (21)

The chief wonder of this rock 'n' roll cast is Tom Everett Scott, whose easy charisma, dreamy smile and undersurface intelligence should shoot him up the acting charts like a bullet.

October 4, 2016 | Full Review…

Though Hanks keeps the satirical and critical aspects of this look at show biz fairly light, there's a lot of conviction and savvy behind the steadiness of his gaze.

December 17, 2007 | Full Review…

First-time writer/director Tom Hanks stays about a half-beat ahead of the cliches with rim shots of boyish enthusiasm and deft comedy. The movie's also buoyed by the title song, whose Beatles sound is infectious enough to merit a real hit.

December 17, 2007 | Full Review…

A sweet, likeable tale of the quick rise to fame and then demise of a small town band. Set in 1964, Hanks' film offers a sanitized, Gump-ish look at a mythical period when boys were boys and girls were girls, with no references to the sex-drug subculture

January 3, 2007 | Rating: B
Top Critic

Sweet nothing, then, but what would you expect of a rock movie devoted to the drummer?

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Mr. Hanks's debut feature, written and directed with delightful good cheer, is rock-and-roll nostalgia presented as pure fizz.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for That Thing You Do!


Do you remember the 60's? The hope, the possibilities, the dreams, the excitement? Do you remember not being anywhere near all of that, only listening to it on the radio, watching it on teevee? Hanks' prepared love letter to those of us in that category involves following the rise and fall of a little garage band that nearly makes it, allowing us to relive our vicarious days of youth. It manages cute, but then that was always its highest goal.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Finger-snapping, head-bopping fun! Tom Everett Scott is effortlessly cool with his ugly-sexy mug, and Liv Tyler is luminous and effervescent. Steve Zahn looks suave and uncharacteristically the most grown up of the bunch. The O-nedders. Hyuk.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Too much adlibbing.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

That Thing You Do! Quotes

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