Plot: What’s it about?
A small time in Pennsylvania has started to make their run at stardom, but it seems as if one element just isn’t there. The “Oneders” (pronounced Wonders) have a strong base of performers in laid back Lenny (Steve Zahn), the enigma known as The Bass Player (Ethan Embry), a service drummer Chad (Giovanni Ribisi), and of course, brooding frontman Jimmy (Johnathan Schaech), but something is still missing from the equation. They’ve done well however and soon, will make their stage debut at a local talent show, until the drummer breaks his arm in a freak parking meter hopping accident. Unless a replacement is found, The Oneders will be out of luck, but when Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) agrees to fill in just this once, they’re saved in the nick of time. So the band treks to the talent show with Guy’s girl Tina (Charlize Theron) and Jimmy’s girl Faye (Liv Tyler) in tow, watching from the crowds. A quick change of pace by Guy leads to a massive success at the show, which sparks a series of events that could take The Oneders into the big time. But how long will their chain of success last, will they make it to star status or quickly become “One Hit Oneders?”
This is not a deep or complex movie in the least, but it is a fun, feel good picture and sometimes, that can be enough. I like this movie a lot and while it has some flaws, the peppy cast, cool music, and solid writing keeps it on track at all times. Tom Hanks serves as writer, director, and actor, with few slips in any of the positions, very impressive indeed. The youthful cast includes Liv Tyler, Tom Everett Scott, Ethan Embry, Johnathan Schaech, and in the stand out performance, Steve Zahn. The actors fill their roles to perfection and seem very natural, but Zahn steals scenes all the time, with his dead on delivery of hilarious lines. The story is basic and quite predictable, but is filled with memorable characters and moments, which more than compensates for the simple nature of the premise. I’d say this flick is much more about the journey than the destination anyway, so just sit back, soak in the visuals & music, and have a good time. This new two disc edition has the original theatrical version, plus a new extended cut, as supervised by Tom Hanks himself. With both versions tucked into one release, plus a nice selection of bonus materials, this new edition is the one fans will want to own.
As I mentioned above, I think the most memorable performance in this film comes from Steve Zahn, who steals a number of scenes. His happy-go-lucky persona meshes with this character to perfection, which ensures a hilarious, but natural performance. I’ve always liked Zahn’s on screen persona and this is one of my personal favorites, his turn is nothing short of terrific. This is an ensemble cast however, which means he is able to bounce off the other workers and again, he excels in that respect. I can’t get enough of Zahn in roles like this one, so here’s to hoping we’ll see him again soon in such situations. You can also see Zahn in such films as Reality Bites, Chain of Fools, Out of Sight, Crimson Tide, Happy Texas, Saving Silverman, and Race The Sun. The cast also includes Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Philadelphia), Tom Everett Scott (Dead Man on Campus, Boiler Room), Ethan Embry (Vegas Vacation, Disturbing Behavior), Johnathan Schaech (The Doom Generation, Hush), Liv Tyler (Armageddon, Empire Records), and Charlize Theron (Reindeer Games, The Cider House Rules).
Video: How does it look?
That Thing You Do! is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The movie looks as good as it did before, though of course, expectations have risen since that original release. Even so, the visuals held up well and while a touch soft in places, most of my original comments still hold true. The film’s bold and vivid color scheme is well presented, with no color errors to report, while flesh tones remain natural also. The black levels look sharp also, very refined contrast balanced and a solid base of detail, no problems in the least. Some small flaws surface with the source materials and a little softness is evident, but not enough to lessen the experience much.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is the same soundtrack as before, so of course, it sounds the same as before. This is a movie about music, so a solid audio track is a must and of course, this disc has one that handles the tasks. The included Dolby Digital 5.0 option is very good, with an immersive atmosphere and some terrific directional effects. The music is the main focus of the mix and it sounds excellent, very crisp and you’ll feel like you’re in the front row of the show. The dialogue is clean and sharp also, with no volume errors or clarity issues to discuss. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here don’t offer much depth and sadly, there is no special look at how this extended cut was produced. You’ll find a bunch of brief, promotional featurettes with behind the scenes footage and interviews. None provide much real insight, but for fluff pieces, they’re brisk to watch. An HBO First Look featurette proves to be the most entertaining, so if you only watch one, that should be the one you choose. This release also includes a music video for Feel Alright, as well as a television spot and some of the film’s theatrical trailers.