Tom Hanks Gives the Magic Touch to 'That Thing You Do!' a Toe-Tapping, Entertaining Musical Comic Drama

Article excerpt

Byline: Dann Gire Daily Herald Film Critic

"That Thing You Do!"

* * * 1/2

Written and directed by Tom Hanks. Produced by Gary Goetzman. A 20th Century-Fox release. Rated PG.

Cast:

   Guy Patterson   Tom Everett Scott
   Faye         Liv Tyler
   Jimmy      Johnathon Schaech
   Lenny      Steve Zahn
   The Bass Player   Ethan Embry
   Mr. White      Tom Hanks

Some movies amaze. Some terrify. Some reveal dark truths about the human condition.

Others, like "That Thing You Do!" take you for a delightful ride and send you out of the theater tapping your toes and humming a song, mainly the infectious title track "That Thing You Do!" by the Wonders.

The incredible Tom Hanks - whose protests that he can't do everything only continue to prove him a modest fibber - wrote and directed "That Thing You Do!" If you could imagine him creating a musical comic drama, you'd imagine this one. Bouncy. Smart. Energetic. Fun. Nice.

Especially nice.

"That Thing You Do!" tells the story of a struggling rock 'n' roll band out of Erie, Pa., who hit the big time with a No. 1 record. These players, nice guys tossed into a pressure-cooker situation, have their roots in early '60s musical myths.

Equal parts the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and the Monkees, The Wonders (as they finally decide to call themselves) begin as a disorganized band rehearsing in basements.

Then, in a twist of fate that original Beatle Pete Best could appreciate, the drummer breaks his arm right before a big local talent contest. So the mercurial lead singer (and John Lennonesque composer) Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), Lenny the lead guitarist (Steve Zahn) and the nameless Bass Player (Ethan Embry) seek out the services of a closet drummer named Guy Patterson (the charismatic Tom Everett Scott, who could really be Tom Hanks' little brother).

That night on stage, Patterson's impulsive nature alters the group's destiny. Without warning, he kicks Jimmy's love ballad "That Thing You Do" up to thoroughbred speed, enraging the other musicians who've spent all afternoon rehearsing it at a horse-and-buggy pace. …