DVD Review: That Thing You Do! (Extended Cut)
By Jeff Swindoll May 10, 2007, 16:18 GMT
Tom Hanks writes, directs and co-stars in this refreshing, big-hearted comedy that captures the overnight triumph of an American rock band during the glory days of rock and roll. ...more
“Ladies and gentlemen….the O-neders!”
Even though the box says it’s Tom’s cut you really don’t get any new input from him and you really don’t get too much new special features. However, what will get fans to buy this set is the new footage from the film added into the new cut.
In 1964 Erie Pennsylvania, Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) is working at this father’s appliance store but he jams on the drums to jazz albums after hours. There’s a local garage band that consists of songwriter/singer Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), guitarist Lenny (Steve Zahn), the bass player (Ethan Embry, his character is never really given a name), drummer Chad (Giovanni Ribisi), with Jimmy’s girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) hanging with the band.
Chad breaks his arm and Lenny convinces the band to let Guy fill in on the drums. On the night of the big talent show, Guy speeds up the ballad ‘That Thing You Do’ and they win the show and a hit with the local kids is born. Eventually they come under the wing of Play Tone executive Mr. White (Tom Hanks) and start to move towards fame and fortune, but will it all last?
That Thing You Do! was Tom Hanks’ feature directorial debut (he had done some television directing) and was also written by him. The film is a love letter to the ‘60s and the bands that thrived there and no doubt comes from the actor’s formative years. The film definitely has a cult following and with good reason since it is a fine film. Those fans can rejoice because the teasing is now over.
What I mean by that is that footage that wasn’t in the theatrical cut of the film had been used in videos and other venues around the time (1996) that the film was being heavily promoted. The film is a fun one and has a nice 1960s vibe and some great tunes. Not only does it have those elements but it also features some hilarious performances and very likeable characters.
The band members have the best lines with kudos going to Zahn who gets to spout most of the funniest. Tom Hanks wisely takes more of a backseat in the proceedings and Mr. White doesn’t show up until later in the movie and allows the audience to get to know the band members and their situations. He may be the big movie star but he knows that the kids are the ones that people will bond with.
The music is also fabulous and the band was trained to play their instruments since none of them were professional musicians. That’s them playing (they even went on a “concert” tour to promote the film in Japan but more on that in the special features). The show is just a delight. The one complaint might be that, as with the new Big DVD, Tom Hanks is only to be found in vintage 1996 footage and doesn’t contribute anything new to the special features. A commentary by director Hanks would’ve been most appreciated.
That Thing You Do! Is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Disc one contains the two cuts of the film (theatrical –107 minutes, extended – 146 minutes) and that’s about it. There is an Easter egg that lets you play the theme song at various speeds, but nothing else (Amazon listed a commentary with actors that doesn’t appear to have made to the final product). Disc two contains the 2-minute “Feel Alright” music video (but not the other two music videos that appeared on the first DVD release).
Next is the 6-minute “The Wonders! Big in Japan!” which the band members (aka actors) are interviewed about the trip to Japan to promote the film. The 30-minute “The Story of the Wonders” appears to have been made in 1996 to promote the film (and features bits that were not in the theatrical cut). It has interviews with writer/director/actor/head bottle washer Tom Hanks, Johnathon Schaech, Tom Everett Scott, Ethan Embry, Steve Zahn, Liv Tyler, and producer Gary Goetzman.
The 13-minute “Making that Think You Do!” seems to pull alternative interview footage shot at the same time of the previous documentary for this one (and I think this was the one on the first DVD release). It’s like an abbreviated version of “The Story of the Wonders.” The 10 minute “That Think You Do! Reunion” features new interviews with Charlize Theron (“Tina”), Zahn, Everett Scott, Schaech, and Embry. The 13-minute “HBO First Look – The Making of That Thing You Do!” was aired on the channel at the time of the film’s coming into theaters. Finally we have 1 TV spot and 3 trailers (the original DVD had more of them, 6 and 6 methinks).
Tom Hanks’ theatrical directorial debut is a fine film with lots of fun characters and great music. It harkens back to a simpler time, or so we think. It was obviously a labor of love for the director/writer/star and is a fine film. Fans will go gaga to finally see the footage in the extended cut and should purchase the film for those treasures. A smattering of special features only makes the deal sweeter.