That Thing You Do! (1996)

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Released 25-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-6
Music Video-That Thing You Do
Music Video-Dance With Me Tonight
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 103:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Hanks

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Tom Hanks
Tom Everett Scott
Steve Zahn
Johnathon Schaech
Liv Tyler
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Win a couple of Best Actor Oscars, and it looks like Hollywood will let you do as you please. This was certainly the case for Tom Hanks after picking up the gongs for both Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. In 1996 he decided to take on directorial duties to make this film. In addition to calling the shots behind the camera, That Thing You Do! also features Hanks in a starring role and taking the credit for the writing. So I guess it is fair to say he had a whole lot riding on the project.

    Set in 1964, it is the time when America is experiencing the British invasion of bands and music. Many of the youngsters in towns and cities around the country think that they can also have a go and make some good music. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) works in his father's appliance store in small town Erie, Pennsylvania. He hates the job and the thought of being stuck there for eternity does not inspire him greatly. He also happens to play the drums a bit for enjoyment. When his mates Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn) strike trouble in their newly formed band, they call on Guy to fill in. Their usual drummer Chad has broken his arm (an early role for Giovanni Ribisi) and would like Guy to help out until Chad has recovered. The guys are still having trouble agreeing on a name for the new band, finally settling on 'The Oneders'. Guy agrees to fill in and when he has a hand in making one of Jimmy's own compositions into a more up-tempo and upbeat boppin' tune, the boys begin a roller-coaster ride of popularity. From a gig in the local restaurant, to playing local fairs, the boys and their hit song That Thing You Do attract the attention of Play-Tone records executive Mr White (Tom Hanks). He arranges to have the record released on the Play-Tone label and soon the band (now renamed 'The Wonders' and sporting several eye-catching gimmicks) are touring the West Coast with their song steadily climbing the charts. They are joined in their travels by Jimmy's girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) who sort of acts as a wardrobe assistant (and love interest). Being on the road and enjoying success is more than these small-town boys ever dreamed of, and it looks like their greatest wishes are about to come true, but the pressures of coming under the control of a record label and the instant success from their hit song is taking its toll. When the bass player goes AWOL, things appear right on track for this group to really become known as the "One-Hit Wonders".

    I first saw this on a flight to London in 1997. It was my first ever business class trip, and having your own little screen attached to the seat was quite a novelty. This film had just been released and was one of the many to choose from. Needless to say, I think I watched it three or four times during the twenty or so hours I spent in the air and got wholeheartedly sick of the main song very quickly (it is played in almost completeness at least eight times during the film). But don't let that put you off. This is quite a fun and enjoyable film and quite a decent first-up directorial effort from Tom Hanks.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Not an overly impressive transfer is provided here for what is really quite young source material. This was a little disappointing.

    Presented in an aspect of 1.85:1, this transfer also features 16x9 enhancement.

    Things start out a little blurry, particularly at 4:03 where Steve Zahn's character Lenny is quite soft. I'm not sure if this could simply be attributed to the source material or whether it is a transfer problem. Overall, this is not an exquisitely sharp transfer, and edge enhancement is not present. Shadow detail is pretty good for what is quite a bright 'n' breezy film. Grain pops up on quite a few occasions. See the scenes in the cafe at around the 23 minute mark for the most noticeable examples of grain. There is also some rather obtrusive low level noise at 23:50 in the black background when the band are playing.

    The colour palette featured in the film was obviously designed to capture those early 60s pastels. These are quite well rendered, with no bleeding or other colour saturation problems.

    There were no obvious MPEG artefacts. Quite a fair bit of aliasing was evident, though it was mostly kept under control. Check out the examples at 40:50 on a vest, and at 52:10 for the worst case on the stadium seats. The usual smattering of film artefacts was present, though given the age of the film, the number present was quite surprising.

    I sampled the English subtitles extensively and found them to be adequate.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change placed at 57:08. Nicely placed and quite unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one soundtrack available on this DVD, that being an English Dolby Digital 5.0 track (yes, there is no LFE channel).

    Dialogue is clear and concise with no apparent audio sync problems.

    I remember reading somewhere that the music featured in this film was all original and written just for this soundtrack. There were no songs sourced from the era depicted at all, which is quite surprising as that would have been the easiest way to encapsulate the time period. It has actually worked rather well and the lack of instantly recognisable material is not missed.

    There is quite a reasonable amount of surround activity at times. The best examples are at 35:17-35:52 and 49:05-49:13 where the band are performing their song. We get a lot of feedback sounds and audience in the surrounds.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

    That song again. Playing in an endless loop just in case you hadn't heard it enough.

Theatrical Trailer

    No less than six different trailers, though only two are in English. The other four are slight variations of the English trailers, but in Spanish and Italian.

Featurette - The Making Of

    Running for 12:31 minutes, this is a full screen presentation with snippets from the film in the same aspect. Normally I'd dismiss this type of feature as pure fluff material, but this one only contains about fifty percent fluff. There is some quite good footage of the real behind-the-scenes goings-on, and interviews with everyone involved, including thoughts from renowned director Jonathan Demme (who also makes a cameo appearance in the film).

Music Video - That Thing You Do

    I guess this just had to be here didn't it? Running for 3:13 minutes, the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 that is fairly uninspiring. The video is 1.78:1 letterbox that is hazier and poorer in colour quality than the main film. If you don't want to watch the main film, I guess this is the next best thing. They both feature the song, so why not!

Music Video - Dance With Me Tonight

    The B side to the above track, I think. Running for 2:08 minutes, this is exactly the same quality and presentation as the previous video.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on

    The Region 1 disc misses out on


    That Thing You Do! is a catchy song that many will find annoying after three or four plays, so watch out as it appears eight times in the film! This is bright, breezy, and fun, and while not stretching any brain cells too far, it is a great family film.

    The video is only just above average.

    The audio is quite good, though the lack of a dedicated LFE track is slightly baffling.

    The extras are pretty thin. A good commentary track from writer, director, and star Tom Hanks would have been invaluable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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