When I'm feeling low, either from a bad cold or a bad breakup, there are a few things I turn to that inject a little joy back into my life: a bottle of wine costing no more than $15, throwing a rotten food item at a deserving person's car, and That Thing You Do!
Released in October 1996, the charming period comedy, written and directed by America's sweetheart Tom Hanks, tells the story of The Wonders (aka The Oneders), a fictional band in 1960s Eerie, Pennsylvania, who become overnight musical sensations when their catchy tune "That Thing You Do!" explodes in post-Beatlemania America. Starring Tom Everett Scott as Guy (the cool, sensitive jazz-head drummer) and Liv Tyler as Faye (the adorable girlfriend of the band's total jerk frontman, Jimmy [Jonathan Shaech) the boys and Faye find themselves on tour, on TV, and even appearing in a big Hollywood movie as "Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters." But soon after making it big, things begin to fall apart. Steve Zahn brings audible LOLs as Lenny, and we're treated to Charlize Theron in her first big movie role (as well as Rita Wilson as a sexpot waitress). Hanks also brings endearing tough uncle energy as the manager who takes The Wonders to the top.
Everything about this movie is completely delightful, impossible to snark on, and might even pull a solid wet tear from your bloodshot eye. The soundtrack, especially, will stay with you forever, in large part due to its incredibly catchy title track, written by Fountains of Wayne frontman and prolific Hollywood songwriter Adam Schlesinger. (Sadly, he died last week from the coronavirus.) "That Thing You Do!" is a prime example of Schlesinger's genius at crafting melody-rich, earworm pop music.
This film stands up as one of the best rock flicks of the last 30 years, will fill you with the warm fuzzies, and will most definitely inspire you to add a bunch of 60s-style outfits to your shopping cart for when outside stops being the Bad Place.
That Thing You Do! is available to rent on Amazon Prime.