Watched January 20, 2012

That Thing You Do! (1996): 4.5/5

After hearing many, many good things about this film and realizing that it was available on Netflix Instant, I finally decided to watch it. I’ll cut right to the chase here: I loved this film! I loved it from the beginning. There’s just something awesome about mid-90s comedies, and this one certainly has a lot going for it.

I was immediately struck by the cast, which is full of familiar faces, but not faces that I’m used to seeing in lead roles. I contemplated forgoing the usual “New to me in 2012” format title and just calling this review “Oh my gosh, it’s that guy!” — a statement my sister and I both shouted countless times throughout the film.

Steve Zahn, for instance, seems to play the goofy friend/sidekick in most of the other films I’ve seen him in, like Joy Ride and You’ve Got Mail. (Granted, I haven’t seen all of his films. 59 credits on IMDb? There have got to be at least a couple of leads in there!)  Great performances are given all around, and beyond the obvious humor there’s a subtle comedy in the movements and performances of the actors.

The “One-ders” (via

The film is also set in the 1960s, which is another plus for me. I’m a total sucker for 20th century period pieces, for obvious reasons. Visually, it seemed (to me) an odd mix of ’60s and ’80s, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. However, this doesn’t put a damper on the film at all. It actually adds to the quirk and charm.

All of this comes in combination with a completely catchy soundtrack. Watch the video above and just try not to have the film’s title song stuck in your head for the next twelve years.

While the point is obviously to parody ’60s groups like The Beatles and The Monkees (“Not those mop tops,” to quote the film), the songs are actually pretty great retro-pop. They’ve been able to accomplish both a successful satire of the entertainment industry and songs that could easily stand on their own, which isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish.

Thank you, superhero writer/director/star Tom Hanks, for a fantastic film.