That Thing You Do!
That Thing You Do!, originally released theatrically in 1996, marked the directorial debut of Tom Hanks, who in addition to directing, also wrote the film and co-stars as Mr. White, a Play-Tone executive. In addition to Hanks, the film boasts and incredible array of talent, including: Tom Everett Scott (Guy "Shades" Patterson), Liv Tyler (Faye), Johnathon Schaech (Jimmy), Steve Zahn (Lenny), Ethan Embry (the bass player), Charlize Theron (Tina), Giovanni Ribisi (Chad), Kevin Pollak (Boss Vic Koss), and Rita Wilson (Marguerite).
Set in 1964, a small band in Erie, Pennsylvania gets the break of a lifetime when their drummer Chad falls and breaks his arm. Scheduled to play at the Mercyhurst College Talent Show that evening, the band approaches Guy Patterson to fill in. Guy agrees, and that night, instead of playing "That Thing You Do!" slow, he speeds up the tempo, much to the horror of lead singer and songwriter Jimmy, who wanted it to be a slow song. However, the song catches on with the crowd, prompting the owner of a local restaurant to offer them a gig. Soon thereafter, they cut a single, and when Mr. White, a Play-Tone record executive, hears them perform, he immediately signs them as the "Wonders." With his help, the Wonder's popularity skyrockets, but can the band survive the instant fame and Jimmy's ego?
I remember seeing That Thing You Do! when it was first released on video, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a great movie to watch while you kick back and relax, as its filled with numerous catchy and enjoyably songs. The talent assembled for the movie, especially Scott, Zahn, and Embry, does an incredible job at bringing the "Wonders" to life. Zahn is easily the highlight of the film for me, as he's quite funny. Hanks really wrote and directed a terrific film, as its never slow or boring and easily holds up with repeat viewings.
That Thing You Do! is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I found the transfer to be slightly disappointing in that some scenes looked soft or a touch out of focus, though I'm unsure as to whether or not this is intentional. The transfer is remarkably clean of defects, as I only noticed a few small speckles. Colors are well saturated and vibrant, flesh tones are accurate, and the black level is terrific throughout the film.
That Thing You Do! is presented in Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround in English and Dolby 2.0 Surround in English and French. The 5.0 soundtrack does a great job at enveloping the viewer in the film, as the surrounds are used effectively and aggressively for the music, and especially when the Wonders perform. Surrounds at other times are rather sparse, however, except for ambient support. Dialogue throughout the film is crisp and clean with no distortion that I detected. Optional English captions and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Extras include six trailers (trailer A in English, trailer B in English, Spanish, & Italian, and trailer C in Spanish and Italian), six TV spots, music videos for That Thing You Do & Dance with Me Tonight, and a thirteen-minute featurette. The featurette takes the viewer through the plot of the movie and consists mainly of interviews with Hanks and the band, though it does provide a few glimpses behind the scenes. It was interesting to learn that the actors that comprised the Wonders mostly had no musical experience, and through training, learned to be a band.
Though the DVD could have used more extras, Fox has provided the film with a solid transfer and a terrific sound mix that is sure to please fans of the film. If you've never seen it, but enjoy light-hearted comedies or other performances from the actor's involved, definitely give That Thing You Do! a look. Highly Recommended!