Sunday, June 17, 2012

That Thing You Do! (1996)

Writer and Director: Tom Hanks (1)

Cast: Tom Everett Scott (2), Liv Tyler (3), Charlize Theron (4), Ethan Embry (5), Tom Hanks, and Alex Rocco (6)

My favourite quote - "Ain't no way to keep a band together. Bands come and go. You got to keep on playin', no matter with who." 

I love watching a film over and over again because each time you watch a film, you notice something different and affects you in a different way. Watching That Thing You Do! again for the umpteenth time, I caught a few details that brought a smile to my face. 

When The Wonders were going on television, I noticed all the little backstage details I never used to in the past. Probably because now I am so used to stuff like that at work that when I see it in a film, it screams and jumps out at me. We got a glimpse of the television production going on and it reminds me of why I love my job. When the director said to his crew that the "supers" were coming up I actually know what they mean now. In the past, I never noticed that line because I wasn't aware of what it meant. Everything about that live television debut of The Wonders was so surreal. It was like I was watching myself at work, except it wasn't actually my production. Kudos to the crew on making the film so realistic. (Click here to see the part with The Wonders' performance on television)

The costumes and the set was amazing! I really felt like I was living in those days, watching the television live show on my brand new colour TV. I never really paid attention to the character or the actress who played Tina too. No, I'm not saying that Charlize Theron wasn't good in the role, just that the role was so small and really a minor plot in the entire story. Looking at her performance now, she really captured the ditzy blonde personality really well.

Jazz! It dawned on me that this film is probably the reason why I started liking jazz. I like the emotion in jazz music and how it makes me feel. Jazz makes me feel like I could enjoy the music and forget all my troubles. 

One other thing that really got to me was the fact that the film felt so real that I actually walked out of the cinema thinking this film was based on a true story. Yes! I believed that this was true for a while before realising it wasn't at all based on fact! When I went on Google to find out more about The Wonders, all I could find was about the band in the film. I think the ending where there were snippets of information given about what happened to each of the band members helped fuel that belief for a while. I like it. I like closure and knowing what happened to my favorite characters, even those I don't like, and even if they're fictional. 

Now, let's get down to the why. Why I love this film and the quote I mentioned. Simply put, I love it because it reminds me to stick to my passions. It reminds me to keep on writing, no matter with who. I also love it cos of the great characters in the film. I love watching how each character interacts with the other band members and how each character react differently to the situations they face. Working in a team is like playing in a band, each person has a specific role and no one should be more important than the other. Yes there should be a leader, but everyone needs to work together harmoniously for a band or a team to succeed in their endeavors. 

Faye. She is special. Is she the heart or the glue that held The Wonders together? Maybe. I can't quite put my finger on a single word to describe how she fit in with the band. She definitely wasn't just the wardrobe coordinator. She was more than that. And Liv Tyler did an excellent job portraying her. This film made me sit up and notice her. 

Guy Patterson played by Tom Everett Scott. He is my dream guy. He really is a gentleman. I wish I had me one of those. In the film, Faye says this "Gentleman. I'd forgotten what you fellas looked like." Well Faye, look no further than Guy Patterson. I loved the way he looked out for Faye like when she was almost left behind but he told the security that she was with them. And when she was sick and he cared for her. I want a guy like him. Someone who would look out for me and protect me. Someone who would pay attention to my needs and try his best to make me feel better, or cheer me up. 

James Mattingly played by Johnathon Schaech is needless to say a world class jerk. But we've met tons of his types I'm sure. The ambitious sort who cares more about his needs that anything else. I think Tom Hanks said it best: "Guy; you are the smart one. Lenny is the fool, Jimmy is the talent, and Faye is... well, now, Faye is special, isn't she? And you are the smart one. That's what I think anyway." And many times, I do feel the way Faye does when she says she has wasted thousands of kisses on him. I too have moments when I feel that way and I tell myself: "Shame on me for kissing you with my eyes closed so tight."

The music is awesome. Till today I love the songs The Wonders played. I still can sing along to the lyrics of That Thing You Do and Dance With Me Tonight. Those two songs are my favorite. I also finally realised that the mambo jambo moves we learnt for Singapore Day 2012 for the song That Thing You Do was from the movie itself! 

The other topic that struck a chord with me was the effects of fame and the world of entertainment in general. It resonates with me because I see it in effect everyday in my reality. 

In retrospect, perhaps That Thing You Do! is the driving force or at the very least the film that sparked my interest in television production, film scores and soundtracks as well as jazz. And all this is why I still love this film, because its somewhat a reflection of what I do everyday. Something I enjoy doing, despite the work being tiring, overwhelming (at times), and leaves me without time for any social life or family time. 

This film reminds me that no matter how tough it is to keep writing, to keep working at the television station, and to keep doing what I love, it beats doing a job that I don't love at all or even enjoy. Look at how mundane Guy Patterson's life was before The Wonders happened to him. It reminds me to take a chance on something I believe in. Even if I fail at it one time, at least I'm doing what I love and I'm doing my best in something I believe in. 

(1) Tom Hanks has acted in films like Big (1988), Sleepless In Seattle (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Saving Private Ryan (1998), You've Got Mail (1998), The Green Mile (1999), Cast Away (2000), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Angels And Demons (2009), and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (2011). He's also voiced Woody in Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Toy Story 3 (2010). He's also voiced Cars (2006) and wrote, acted, directed, and produced the film Larry Crowne (2011).

(2) Tom Everett Scott has acted in films like Because I Said So (2006), and Race To Witch Mountain (2009).

(3) Liv Tyler has acted in films like Stealing Beauty (1996), Armageddon (1998), The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003), Jersey Girl (2004), and The Incredible Hulk (2008)

(4) Charlize Theron has acted in films like Mighty Joe Young (1998), Sweet November (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Monster (2003), North Country (2005), ├ćon Flux (2005), Hancock (2008), Snow White And The Huntsman (2012), and Prometheus (2012)

(4) Ethan Embry has acted in films like Can't Hardly Wait (1998), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Timeline (2003), Harold & Kumar Go To Whitecastle (2004), and Eagle Eye (2008)

(6) Alex Rocco has acted in films like The Godfather (1972) and The Wedding Planner (2001).

PS: I noticed the actress (Sarah Koskof) who played Kristy (aka the girl who was gaga over Guy Patterson) cos I remember watching her and noticing her when she played the love interest of Lucas Wolenczak (played by Jonathan Brandis in seaQuest DSV - one of my favourite science fiction television series). I noticed her cos I've never really seen her in many other films so it was good to see her again.

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… that there is never a dull moment in That Thing You Do! It will remind you to keep on playin', no matter with who. If you love the 60s, if you love watching films about passion and music, you'll love That Thing You Do! (4.8 of 5)

Movie Poster from Wikipedia

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