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That Thing You Do!

That Thing You Do!
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Hanks
Produced by Jonathan Demme
Gary Goetzman
Edward Saxon
Written by Tom Hanks
Starring Tom Everett Scott
Liv Tyler
Johnathon Schaech
Steve Zahn
Ethan Embry
Tom Hanks
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Tak Fujimoto
Edited by Richard Chew
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 4, 1996 (1996-10-04)
Running time 108 minutes
149 minutes (Extended cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million
Box office $34,585,416[1]

That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical comedy drama film written, directed by, and co-starring Tom Hanks. Set in the summer of 1964, the movie tells the story of the quick rise and fall of a one-hit wonder pop band. The film also resulted in a musical hit with the song "That Thing You Do".


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production and music 3
    • The (real) Wonders 3.1
  • Soundtrack 4
    • Track Listing 4.1
  • Reception 5
  • Home media 6
    • Initial release 6.1
    • First DVD 6.2
    • Extended Edition DVD 6.3
    • 2007 DVD repackage re-release 6.4
    • Blu-ray release 6.5
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


In 1964, Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is a drummer who works at Patterson’s Appliances --his family's Erie, Pennsylvania struggling appliance store. Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn) ask Guy to sit in with their band at the annual Mercyhurst College talent show, because their regular drummer Chad (Giovanni Ribisi) has broken his arm. The last member of the group is the unnamed bass player (Ethan Embry) (the character is never addressed by name and is credited as "T.B. Player"). The group rehearses a ballad titled "That Thing You Do". Jimmy's girlfriend, Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler), is inspired by Guy's reaction to the song (he exclaims, "Wonderful!") and names the group "The Oneders" (pronounced "Wonders"); a running gag has various people mispronouncing it as "Oh-need-ers".

At the talent show, Guy launches into a faster tempo for "That Thing You Do" and the audience goes wild for the song. The Oneders win the $100 top prize and obtain their first paying gig at a local night club. With the help of Guy's Uncle Bob (Chris Isaak), they record and begin selling a single of "That Thing You Do", which attracts the attention of local manager Phil Horace (Chris Ellis). At a Pittsburgh gig, record company A&R representative Mr. White (Hanks) offers the band a development contract with Play-Tone Records. The boys sign the contract, and White changes their band name to "The Wonders" to avoid further confusion.

The Wonders tour state fairs across the Midwest during the summer with other Play-Tone artists, including Freddy Frederickson (Robert Torti), The Chantrellines (Kennya Ramsey, Julie Harkness, and Darlene Dillinger), and Diane Dane (Chaille Percival). "That Thing You Do" enters and climbs the Billboard Top 100. As time goes by, The Wonders go from being the opening act to the feature attraction, and throngs of teenage girls mob the band. When the song enters the Top 10, The Wonders leave the Play-Tone tour for California where they appear in a low-budget beach movie and several radio shows. The bass player leaves the band with a group of Marines and never returns. Since he was leaving the band anyway in a few months to join the marines, White brings in an experienced studio bassist, Scott "Wolfman" Pell (Larry Antonino) to join The Wonders for a live performance on a prestigious national television variety show. During the broadcast, the caption "Careful girls, he's engaged!" is superimposed beneath Jimmy's close-up. Jimmy is upset by this, and after the show announces he has no intention of marrying Faye. Heartbroken, Faye ends their relationship.

During a recording session the next day without Lenny (who eloped to Las Vegas with a Play-Tone secretary), Jimmy resists White's plan to cover songs from the Play-Tone catalog. White explains that their Play-Tone contract specifies the content of the album: one original song per side, with the balance consisting of corporate-owned material, but the original songs must be "snappy", not ballads. Jimmy announces he's quitting the band and storms out of the studio. White tells Guy that the "The Wonders" are now technically in breach of contract with Play-Tone, but reassures a nervous Guy not to worry, that "no one is going to jail" and that this is not an uncommon occurrence and the record company will simply terminate their agreement and write them off as just another "one-hit wonder". Dejected, Guy remains in the recording studio and plays an impromptu jazz drum solo. He is overheard by the recording staff, who are impressed with his skills and offer to record the session. Guy refuses at first, but then is bolstered when his idol, jazz pianist Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs) suggests that they record a duet. Guy later tells Faye that Del thinks he has potential as a jazz musician. Faye tells Guy she plans on returning to Erie, and Guy takes the opportunity to declare his feelings for her.

An epilogue details the subsequent lives of the band members: Guy and Faye marry, raise four children and establish The Puget Sound Conservatory of Music in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where Guy teaches jazz composition. Jimmy records three gold albums with a new band (The Heardsmen) on the Play-Tone label and becomes a successful record producer in Los Angeles. Lenny is divorced and manages a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. "T.B. Player" serves two tours in Vietnam and is awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained at Khe Sanh; he becomes a building contractor in Orlando, Florida.


  • Tom Everett Scott as Guy "Shades" Patterson, the film's main protagonist, drums
  • Johnathon Schaech as James "Jimmy" Mattingly II, the leader of The One-ders, rhythm guitar and lead vocals
  • Tom Hanks as Mr. White, the band's second manager (he is briefly addressed as "Andy" by Sol Siler in the film,[2] and the CD liner notes show his initials as "A.M. White")
  • Steve Zahn as Leonard "Lenny" Haise, lead guitar and backing vocals and the "jokester" of the group
  • Ethan Embry as "T. B. Player," a.k.a. The Bass Player (character's name is never revealed), bass guitar and backing vocals
  • Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Jimmy's girlfriend and the band's "costume mistress"
  • Charlize Theron as Tina Powers, Guy's girlfriend, who leaves him for her dentist.
  • Bill Cobbs as Del Paxton, Guy's favorite jazz musician
  • Giovanni Ribisi as Chad, the band's original drummer
  • Obba Babatundé as Lamarr, the Ambassador Hotel bellman
  • Alex Rocco as Sol Siler, founder of Play-Tone Records
  • Chris Isaak as Uncle Bob, Guy's uncle and their first recording engineer
  • Larry Antonino as Scott 'Wolfman' Pell
  • Holmes Osborne as Mr. Patterson, Guy "Shades" Patterson's father.
Playtone artists
  • Robert Torti as Freddy Fredrickson
  • Kennya Ramsey, Julie Harkness, and Darlene Dillinger as The Chantrellines
  • Chaille Percival as Diane Dane
  • Director Jonathan Demme one of the producers of That Thing You Do!, also directed Tom Hanks in his first Oscar-winning role for Philadelphia, and has a cameo as the director of Weekend At Party Pier.
  • Comedian Barry Sobel, who co-wrote Hanks' stand-up material for and was featured in the film Punchline, has a cameo as "Goofball" in Weekend at Party Pier.
  • Tracy Reiner, who played "Betty Spaghetti" Horn in A League of Their Own and Mary Haise in Apollo 13 (both Tom Hanks movies), has a cameo as Anita, the co-star of Weekend at Party Pier.
  • Musician Chris Isaak appears as Uncle Bob who produces the band's first recording, and would later appear as astronaut Edward Higgins White in Tom Hanks' From the Earth to the Moon miniseries.
  • Actress Rita Wilson, Hanks' wife, has a small part as Marguerite, the waitress at The Blue Spot jazz club, whose interest in Guy becomes compromised when Guy realizes his jazz idol Del Paxton is in the club.
  • Tom Hanks' son, Colin, appears as a page at the City of Broadcasting. He can be seen escorting Faye (Liv Tyler) from her car to her seat in the studio audience. His role is slightly expanded in the extended edition DVD.
  • Elizabeth Hanks, Hanks' daughter with his first wife, appears as "Bored Girl in Dress Shop".
  • Peter Scolari, Tom Hanks' co-star on the '80s sitcom Bosom Buddies, plays Troy Chesterfield, host of The Hollywood Television Showcase. He later appeared as astronaut Pete Conrad in "From the Earth to the Moon".
  • Football player/commentator Howie Long appears as Mr. White's driver/partner Lloyd in the extended cut; his part was entirely cut from the theatrical release.
  • Bryan Cranston appears as astronaut Gus Grissom during The Hollywood Television Showcase scenes. He later appeared as astronaut Buzz Aldrin in From the Earth to the Moon.
  • Clint Howard, the brother of Ron Howard, appears as a KJZZ Disk Jockey. Howard played EECOM Paul Lucas in From the Earth to the Moon and Sy Liebergot in Apollo 13. Both characters were EECOM for the Apollo program, with Paul Lucas being a fictional character.
  • Kevin Pollak (Apollo Program Manager Joe Shea in From the Earth to the Moon) appears as Victor 'Boss Vic Koss' Kosslovich
  • Gedde Watanabe who starred with Hanks & Rita Wilson in "Volunteers" appears as a Playtone photographer.
  • Chris Ellis as Phil Horace, the band's first manager. Ellis had previously acted in Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, as Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton. He later appeared with Tom Hanks as Agent Hanratty's FBI supervisor in Catch Me If You Can.
  • Marc McClure as the Hollywood Showcase Director; McClure had previously acted in Apollo 13 with Hanks, as Flight Director Glynn Lunney

Production and music

The movie features original music by Tom Hanks, Adam Schlesinger, Rick Elias, Scott Rogness, Mike Piccirillo, Gary Goetzman and Howard Shore. In the movie, The Wonders rise to brief stardom on the strength of "That Thing You Do", a song written as a wistful ballad but which becomes an uptempo rocker during the band's first performance at a talent show. Written and composed for the film by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, and singer songwriter Mike Viola, and released on the film's soundtrack, the song became a genuine hit for The Wonders in 1996 (the song peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, #22 on the Adult Contemporary charts, #18 on the Adult Top 40, and #24 on the Top 40 Mainstream charts). The track was nominated for a 1996 Golden Globe Award as well as a 1996 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mike Viola of The Candy Butchers provided the distinctive lead vocals for the Wonders.

In the film, the title song is referenced with "All My Only Dreams" as the B-side. The actual 45 RPM single, released to record stores in North America, features "Dance With Me Tonight" as its B-side. The song has since been recorded by The Knack and Bubblegum Lemonade.

The song that plays during the film's opening credits, "Lovin' You Lots and Lots," is credited to the fictitious Norm Wooster Singers, but was actually written by Hanks. This song is a good-natured parody of Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller, and other practitioners of the "beautiful music" or proto-Muzak formats that were a staple of adult radio during the early '60s such as on KPOL (AM)1540 in Los Angeles.[3][4] Hanks also composed Guy's jazzy signature drum solo, "I Am Spartacus."

The tour and TV appearance are done in the authentic style of rock bands of the mid-1960s, including Go-Go girls, elaborate sharing of microphones, and formal clothing in various matching colors.

The song "Voyage Around the Moon" by the fictional band Saturn 5 closely resembles "Pipeline" by The Chantays. The scene where The Wonders are miming the instrumental tune "Shrimp Shack" during the filming of a beach party film titled Weekend at Party Pier is an overt reference to the scene in Pajama Party wherein The Nooney Rickett 4 play the instrumental song Beach Ball.[5]

The (real) Wonders

There were at least two real bands named the Wonders that managed to make the record charts at various radio stations in the early 60s. One had a ballad called "With These Hands" (b/w "Please Don't Cry"; Bamboo 523) that was played by KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the fall of 1962.[6]

The other Wonders had a regional hit record called "Say There" (b/w "Marilyn"; Colpix 699), released by Colpix Records in August 1963.[7] Little is known about these Wonders, except that they were probably from Ohio or Pennsylvania, as "Say There" hit the top 20 at WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, and made the Top 30 at KQV in Pittsburgh.[8] (Even more interestingly, there is a scene in the movie where a disc jockey at WCOL—with the station's call letters clearly visible on the wall behind him—is seen playing "That Thing You Do"!)[9]


The soundtrack album (released under the Play-Tone name in conjunction with Epic Records) was also a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The CD artwork is a replica of the fictional Play-Tone label used in the movie, and the liner notes are done in a mockumentary style, as if the Wonders had been a real group and the events of the film had actually happened. Hanks later used the success of That Thing You Do! as a spring-board to launch the actual Playtone Records label, through which the soundtracks of all his subsequent films, and other films like Bring It On and television programs like The Sopranos were released as albums.

Track Listing

No. Title Music Artist Length
1. "Lovin' You Lots and Lots"   Tom Hanks The Norm Wooster Singers 1:54
2. "That Thing You Do!"   Adam Schlesinger The Wonders 2:47
3. "Little Wild One"   David Gibbs, Steve Hurley, Phil Hurley, Fred Elringham The Wonders 2:30
4. "Dance With Me Tonight"   Scott Rogness, Rick Elias The Wonders 2:05
5. "All My Only Dreams"   Rogness, Elias The Wonders 2:54
6. "I Need You (That Thing You Do)" (The movie credits list this song as being from 'The Heardsmen'.) Rogness, Elias, Linda Elias The Wonders 2:53
7. "She Knows It"   Rogness, Elias The Heardsmen 3:01
8. "Mr. Downtown"   Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Mike Piccirillo Freddy Fredrickson 2:32
9. "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart"   Hanks, Goetzman, Piccirillo The Chantrellines 3:11
10. "Voyage Around The Moon"   Hanks, Goetzman, Piccirillo The Saturn 5 3:04
11. "My World Is Over"   Piccirillo Diane Dane 3:01
12. "Drive Faster"   Rogness, Elias The Vicksburgs 2:48
13. "Shrimp Shack"   Piccirillo Cap'n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters 2:22
14. "Time To Blow"   Steve Tyrell, Robert Mann Del Paxton 4:20
15. "That Thing You Do! (Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase)"   Schlesinger The Wonders 2:54
Total length:


The film was well received by critics and currently holds a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The movie debuted at No. 3.[10] It was moderately successful at the box office, grossing $25,857,416 domestically and $8,728,000 abroad for a worldwide gross of $34,585,416.[1]

Home media

Initial release

That Thing You Do! was first released in mid-1997 on VHS. In 1998, the film became available in the DIVX format (as with all 20th Century Fox films), rather than DVD.

First DVD

After DIVX failed, the film was released onto DVD on June 5, 2001. It included the featurette "The Making of That Thing You Do!," and two music videos.

Extended Edition DVD

On May 8, 2007, Tom Hanks' Extended Edition was released on DVD. The film's theatrical cut and an extended cut with 39 additional minutes of deleted scenes are included.

Many of the deleted scenes are devoted to character development. A tastefully steamy look at Guy's "make-out" session with Tina at his apartment is included. The extended version also goes more in-depth with Guy's developing relationship with Faye (via mild flirting) and his deteriorating relationship with Tina, as well as Tina's budding relationship with her dentist, Dr. Collins. It also reveals that the Tom Hanks character "Mr. White" is not only gay but in a relationship with a man played by former NFL defensive lineman Howie Long.

More camera time is also devoted to the romance between the bass player and one of the singers of the Chantrellines. In the theatrical cut, this romance was depicted mainly as an unrequited crush on the part of the bass player; in the extended cut it is clearly shown that his efforts were successful.

At the end of the Extended Edition, rather than becoming a studio drummer on the recommendation of Del Paxton, Guy becomes a disc jockey for the jazz station KJZZ and records a documentary series of interviews with legendary jazz musicians.

2007 DVD repackage re-release

That Thing You Do! was packaged with Bachelor Party and The Man with One Red Shoe in the Tom Hanks Triple Feature DVD anthology set. The actual DVD appears to be the original 2001 disc, with the featurette and music videos.

Blu-ray release

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray on April 2, 2013. The Blu-ray includes the Theatrical and Extended cuts as well as all of the bonus features found on the 2-Disc DVD.

See also


  1. ^ a b "That Thing You Do! (1996)". Box Office Mojo. 1996-11-15. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  2. ^ IMDB: "That Thing You Do!" Trivia
  3. ^ "That Thing You Do: Various Artists: Music". Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  4. ^ "KPOL Archive #1". Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  5. ^ Pajama PartyCompilation: The Nooney Rickett 4 in on YouTube
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Both records by the real Wonders can be found on YouTube.
  10. ^ Puig, Claudia (1996-10-08). "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 

External links

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