That Thing You Do! Is a Testament to the Power of One Great Song
With our new weekly series, we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite music movies—from artist docs and concert films to biopics and fictional music flicks—that are available to stream or rent. Our first installment is on Tom Hanks’ 1996 comedy, That Thing You Do! (warning: spoilers ahead). The movie’s Oscar-nominated theme song ranks among Hollywood’s best fake hits; its songwriter, Adam Schlesinger, died this week at 52 from coronavirus complications.
When Ringo Starr joined the Beatles in 1962, he was considered the greatest drummer in Liverpool. Talent-wise, he was a major upgrade from the group’s original drummer, Pete Best, plus he cut a cool, sophisticated figure. It was only later that Ringo became the fool of the group, the sweet clown among brilliant men.
Take the original view of Ringo, transport it to the Midwest, make him obsessed with jazz (and about eight inches taller), and you get Guy Patterson, the closest thing to a protagonist in That Thing You Do!. Played by Tom Everett Scott, Guy is the seasoned pro who joins the Oneders, the fictional band that quickly rises and implodes in the movie, after their original drummer breaks his arm goofing off. Guy practices the group’s signature lament, “That Thing You Do!,” just once, decides it would sound better sped up, and surprises the band with a driving tempo at the talent show. His decision is immediately affirmed: People start dancing, and a local promoter offers the Oneders a gig before they can even leave ...
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