Friday, February 12, 2016

Mock Squid Soup: That Thing You Do!

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to welcome you to Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society, meetings on the second Friday of each month.  Last week, society members posted three clues as to their chosen film for the month.  Today is the big reveal.  A reminder on my clues:

- The writer/director is one of Hollywood's all-time superstar actors.  He appears in the film, though in a supporting role.  Interestingly, the actual male lead is a dead ringer for a younger version of the megastar and was nearly passed over for the part as a result.  However, the two are not related.

- The female lead is the daughter of rock 'n' roll royalty.

- The film is the only one I know of that takes place, at least in part, in northwest Pennsylvania.

Drum roll please...

Title: That Thing You Do!
Director: Tom Hanks
Original Release: 1996
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
That Thing You Do! tells the tale of a one-hit wonder band from Erie, Pennsylvania who take the country by storm during one mid-'60s summer.   It's a bit like an inspiring sports story in light-hearted, musical form.  Or perhaps it's The Commitments, gone over with a washcloth.  Whatever it is, it's adorable.

The hero is Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott, the Tom Hanks double), a genuinely talented drummer stuck working for his dad at the local home appliance store.  One day, a pal recruits him to sit in with his band for a talent show.  Guy surprises his new mates by upping the tempo at the performance and the magic begins.  First, a vagabond agent discovers the act, then a Hollywood record label represented by Mr. White (Hanks).  The band tours state fairs en route to LA.  As happens in life, some relationships develop while others suffer.

Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steve) is Faye, the lead singer Jimmy's girlfriend.  Ms. Tyler's film performances are uneven in my experience.  She flourishes with great material (see Lord of the Rings) but lacks the talent to carry a movie on her own.  Faye is a good role for her.  She and Scott have wonderful chemistry, essential to the successful execution of the plot.  She has a monologue towards the end in a consequential moment with Jimmy that is, frankly, painful.  It's the big clunker line in an otherwise well-written screenplay, not entirely unlike Andie MacDowell's "Is it raining?" disaster in Four Weddings and a Funeral.  But it's not really her fault.  I blame the writer (Hanks again) for that one.

Two scenes have always stood out for me in That Thing You Do!  The first, I will admit, is a strange choice.  I love the scene in which Guy's girlfriend Tina (Charlize Theron) dumps him.  Tina has fallen in love with her hunky dentist but has yet to tell Guy.  Tina and Guy are on the phone engaged in what he assumes is their usual comfortable prattle.  Suddenly bored with their conversation, she hangs up on him.  No explanation.  No further discussion.  She's had enough and she's moving on.  Done.  I love it!  It would be rotten in real life but in the movie, it works.

The second scene is more obvious: the first time the band hears their own song playing on the radio.  My one lasting image from the movie has always been Liv Tyler running down the Erie sidewalk, screaming with delight.  If you wish to see pure joy portrayed on screen, look no further.

For those two scenes alone, I would happily watch the movie anytime.  In many ways, though, the true star is the title song, genuinely catchy.  In the movie universe, it hit #7 on the Billboard chart.  In the real world, it reached a nothing-to-sneeze-at 41.



Next meeting is Friday, March 11th.  I'll post March's blog list tomorrow.  For March, pick another society member's choice from our ever increasing library to review.  Today, please visit my fellow cinephiles, listed below:


24 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this movie! I've been watching a lot of movies lately--last night was a British Great War comedy, "The Wiper Times"

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    1. You should join us one of these months, sage!

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  2. I remember really enjoying the movie when I saw it in the theater. I don't completely recall the breakup scene- so I definitely need to watch it again. I do remember Liv Tyler running screaming down the street. I didn't realize they changed the songs place on the Billboard list in the movie. Interesting!
    ~Jess

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    1. I guess I explained that last bit poorly. The song was created for the film and charted in 1996.

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  3. I remember liking that one, though I don't remember the movie very well.

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    1. My local video store at the time let you rent for the week cheap. I watched it several times and know it well.

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  4. As I suggested earlier, this was a movie I had to see. But it was also one I was pleased to enjoy. Hanks is a real treasure, and it was interesting for him to make this of all movies when given complete control. Movies about music are typically fun, even if, like sports movies, they tend to feature the same beats. As you point out, the real achievement in this one is that they managed to make the title tune a truly memorable one. And that's as good as you can say about it.

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    1. Who would have have expected in his Bachelor Party days that Hanks would have such an extraordinary career?

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  5. I have not seen that movie although I figured you were talking about Live Tyler but I had no idea she was in this. Now I have to know the horrible line because that line from 4 Weddings is atrocious. I have been meaning to want to see this film so I may pick it as one to see for the future

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    1. I hope you will watch it. I would be delighted to know your thoughts.

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  6. It was a fun movie and I enjoyed it.

    cheers, parsnip

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  7. I'm pretty sure I've never seen this movie! But it sounds like a lot of fun :)

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  8. I really liked this movie. Saw it when it came out and then numerous times on VHS. Such a catchy soundtrack and a great snapshot of the time. So much fun!

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    1. Definitely a good one for continuous loop at a video store.

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  9. I absolutely love this movie AND the fact that all the movies on the Film Society's roster today are favorites of mine. How did that happen???

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    1. Perhaps we're gradually adapting to one another's tastes.

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  10. Ooh great choice! I remember loving this when it came out, but haven't seen it since then. I remember the love story being sweet, and the music very bubblegummy fun. It was interesting also to watch the relationships between all of them change as the band had its rise and fall in fame.

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