Friday, February 29, 2008

That Thing You Did

I watched the extended version of That Thing You Do! last night. It came out in 1996 and was written and directed by Tom Hanks, who also plays a supporting role as the band manager. I mentioned that I loved this movie to my friend Ed and he said," Of course you do". Yeah, it's pretty much right up my alley, mostly because it's about being in a band playing in a style of music I really like - and the music for the film is actually catchy. Plus it takes place near where I grew up. And it really gets most everything right. There are some goofy moments a la Help/A Hard Day's Night, but overall this is not really a silly movie, though it is a lot of fun. Well, you've probably already seen it by now, so I'll spare you the details. Kudos to you Mr. Hanks, though you're still on my shit list for Forrest Gump.

The extended version gives a lot more background on their Oneder's life in Erie, PA before they hit it big and is marginally entertaining. But the weirdest moment came towards the end when Howie Long made a cameo as Tom Hanks' character's boyfriend. Yes, you heard me right - Tom Hanks and Howie long as a gay couple out for a night on the town.  As a character and plot point, it's all fine with me - but Howie Long?? How random is that? I bet you could win a lot of trivia bets with that info....

My one complaint with the film is that Hanks portrays Jimmy, the lead singer/songwriter, as a selfish jerk. Maybe he needs to act this way to justify the romantic subplot, I don't know. But every time he brings up something in regards to artistic integrity he is almost always undercut and ridiculed. And the thing is, I agree with him every time. He doesn't want to blindly sign a recording contract, he wants assurances that they'll be recording more material soon, he's pissed off when they're dressed up as sailors in a bad B-movie, etc. And he finally walks out on the band when he's told that they will have to record pre-selected covers for their next album, with only one original per side of the record. Shit, I'd walk, too!

In the epilogue, we see that Jimmy ends up recording and producing with a new band (The Heardsmen!) for the label, which actually rings pretty true. Still, I'm not sure why Jimmy is always mocked for trying to be legit and our sympathies are aimed at the live-for-today philosophies of Steve Zahn's character. As if he knows that this is just a one-hit wonder, it's not serious, so why worry about credibility. It would be cool to do a remake of this movie set in Olympia, Washington in the indie-cred obsessed 90's....

4 comments:

TheSizzler said...

You create a post about this film and yet do not mention Rita Wilson's rack in the nightclub scene? Maybe you need a night out with Howie.

Howie Day, maybe. hurf-hurf

Pete Best said...

She was a little long in the tooth for me. And sort of long in the boob, too, from what I could tell...

Crustodio said...

1. Rita Wilson's rack cameo = awesomeness

2. It should be noted that the lead singer did not like the "fast" version of the one-hit-wonder. In other words, he was wrong. His total wrongness throughout the movie is based on that first bad decision. That and he treated Liv Tyler like shit. And for that, he must pay.

TheSizzler said...

Crustodio, you forgot to add:

Q.E.motherfuckinD.