That Thing You Do Blu-ray Review
It’s hard to believe there was a time that Tom Hanks was better known for his comedic, and then dramatic, turns as an actor than for his work behind the camera. One of his first forays into behind the screen work, THAT THING YOU DO!, was a classy and beautiful homage to the original boy bands. Featured both as the band manager with a big-heart (Mr. White) and making his directorial debut, THAT THING YOU DO! ushered in a new age in Hanks’ career. It also happens to be a pretty good flick about a by-gone era.
THAT THING YOU DO! is the story of The Wonders!, a four-piece boy band who hit it big when they have THE hit single, titled “That Thing You Do”. Our foursome suddenly sky-rocket, from practicing in their garage to signing with a small-time manager and getting a small regional showcase, to finally touring with national recording tour and having one of the top records in the country, all in the course of a few weeks.
During that time, we get to see the guys play fully through their stereotyped (but accurate) characterizations. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is our hero, the beatnik drummer from whose eyes we get to see The Wonders! journey. Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) is the talent, the lead singer and songwriter at the head of the group. Lenny (Steve Zahn) is the fool, and Zahn plays it with the type of zeal that made me excited whenever I saw his name attached to indie flicks during this era. Finishing the group we have T.B. Player (Ethan Embry) on the bass and unofficially Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler) as Jimmy’s girlfriend and the real heart of the group.
All of the cast are near-perfect in their roles. This is one of those films where the pieces all come together right in front of us, and suddenly we get to see the magic that plays out. Guy joins the band after they’ve already started playing together, because their original drummer, Chad (Giovanni Ribisi) breaks his arm. His arrival, while being the catalyst for the success The Wonders! experience, is also in many ways the beginning of the end of the band, and while we get to witness the signs throughout THAT THING YOU DO! it is still painful when it happens.
The title song is catchy, thankfully, because you’re going to hear parts of it at least 50 times during THAT THING YOU DO!. In fact, I believe the song charted during the mid-90’s, when the film was originally playing in theaters. All-in-all THAT THING YOU DO! is a lot of fun, though there isn’t a whole lot of substance. The plot, in fact, is pretty thin when you really get to think about it. But honestly, none of that matters when you’re having this much fun. If you enjoyed this era of music at all you’ll have a great time checking out THAT THING YOU DO! on Blu-ray.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The video presentation is pretty nice for THAT THING YOU DO!. The colors pop off the screen and the visual presentation is a testament to not only Hanks but to the professionals with whom he worked on this picture.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is equally nice, bringing THAT THING YOU DO! to the middle of your living room. (Important to note in music-heavy films, make sure to try out your sound mix on your surround sound system. Dialogue and music don’t play through all systems the same way.) If you love the music you’ll have your whole family dancing around the house by the end of this one.
Extended Version (02:27:33) Like most extended versions of films you’ve seen a few times, THAT THING YOU DO! tries to cram in a whole lot of character development and extra moments into this ‘extended’ version. Way too many scenes are added here. Another testament to the filmmaking – none of the scenes are really BAD… they just don’t move THAT THING YOU DO! forward and end up really slowing down the pace. Good job getting rid of these scenes. This is included for folks who REALLY LOVE the flick.
The Wonders! Big in Japan (07:01) The cast and crew did press tours in Europe and Japan to promote the movie. Lots of behind the scenes moments and some great footage. Sometimes it is just fun to watch folks having a good time, and these guys had a fantastic time promoting THAT THING YOU DO!.
The Story of the Wonders (30:53) An in-depth, great special feature that really adds to the package of THAT THING YOU DO!. Tom Hanks spends a lot of time discussing the process and the characters. This is the kind of special feature that makes you love the film more and more.
Feel Alright Video (02:35) Kind of a music video, but really a montage of scenes from THAT THING YOU DO!, this is another of The Wonders! hits from the movie.
Making THAT THING YOU DO! (13:48) A shorter making of featurette, this one is based around a discussion with Hanks. Featuring interviews with the actors and some great behind the scenes moments, this is another great addition to THAT THING YOU DO!. The cast spent a lot of time together working on getting the chemistry right, which paid great dividends.
THAT THING YOU DO! Reunion (10:19) Johnathon Schaech, Charlize Theron, Tom Everett Scott, and Ethan Embry got together to talk about making THAT THING YOU DO!. This is a pretty interesting feature and reveals a few insights not in the other features on this blu-ray.
HBO First Look – The Making of THAT THING YOU DO (13:03) A feature that debuted on HBO back when THAT THING YOU DO! was released, this one is put together differently than the others on the Blu-ray but it contains many of the same anecdotes and interview footage.
The THAT THING YOU DO! Blu-ray also includes the three Theatrical Trailers (01:39, 02:25, and 02:07 respectively) and the TV Spot (00:33) that aired to promote the feature.