UltimateDisney.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD Review

That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks' Extended Cut DVD Review

That Thing You Do! (1996) movie poster That Thing You Do!

Theatrical Release: October 4, 1996 / Running Time: 108 Minutes (Theatrical Cut), 147 Minutes (Extended Edition) / Rating: PG

Writer/Director: Tom Hanks

Cast: Tom Everett Scott (Guy Patterson), Liv Tyler (Faye Dolan), Johnathon Schaech (Jimmy), Steve Zahn (Lenny), Ethan Embry (The Bass Player), Tom Hanks (Mr. White), Charlize Theron (Tina), Obba Babatundι (Lamarr), Giovanni Ribisi (Chad), Chris Ellis (Horace), Alex Rocco (Sol Siler), Bill Cobbs (Del Paxton), Peter Scolari (Troy Chesterfield), Rita Wilson (Margueritte), Chris Isaak (Uncle Bob), Kevin Pollak (Boss Vic Koss), Robert Torti (Freddy Fredrickson), Chaille Percival (Diane Dane), Holmes Osborne, Jr. (Mr. Patterson), Claudia Stedelin (Mrs. Patterson), Dawn Maxey (Darlene Patterson), Jack Milo (Villapiano), Keith Nubert (Dentist), Lee Everett (Kitty)

Songs: "That Thing You Do", "Lovin' You Lots and Lots", "Mr. Downtown", "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart", "All My Only Dreams", "Dance With Me Tonight", "Drive Faster", "She Knows It", "I Need You (That Thing You Do)", "Little Wild One", "Time to Blow", "My World is Over", "Shrimp Shack"

Buy from Amazon.com

By Aaron Wallace

The mid-1990s were good to Tom Hanks. A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Toy Story were among the decade's biggest hits, raking in nearly two billion dollars in domestic gross and bringing their common star back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. All this paved the way for That Thing You Do!, the 1996 comedy that saw Hanks not only acting, but writing and directing for the first time as well. Despite its high-profile auteur, the film didn't live up to the financial success of its predecessors, scoring only $25 million domestically. Nonetheless, it made an impact on pop culture and remains an important part of 1990sdom.

The film tells the story of The Wonders, a fictional light-rock band of the mid-1960s who bear an intentional resemblance to The Beatles. The similarities are superficial, though, as the story is all Hanks'. That's not to say that it's extraordinarily original; musicians' tumultuous rise to fame is a frequent subject in film, after all.
A number of factors set it apart from others of its ilk, however, like the positioning of the band's drummer as the central protagonist. The narrative follows Guy Patterson's journey from his family's struggling appliance store to his accidental membership in and subsequent revolution of The Wonders to the top of the pop charts.

When Guy (Tom Everett Scott) and his band-mates -- lead singer Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), guitarist Lenny (Steve Zahn), and the anonymous bass player (Ethan Embry) -- take on a new manager, Mr. White (Tom Hanks), their careers take off at warp speed. Accompanied by costume mistress/Jimmy's girlfriend, Faye (Liv Tyler), their haphazard success takes them from local gigs to TV specials and national tours. The film chronicles the added pressures and heated tensions that meet the band at each new height. Divergent priorities, clashing personalities, and the obligatory romantic plight provide the drama that gives this comedy just the right weight. Though only occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, a sense of irony and a decidedly quirky tone ensure that the proceedings are amusing while superb acting and conscious character development render it engaging as well.

"I am Spartacus!" Guy Patterson (Thomas Everett Scott) and his friends celebrate The Oneders' radio debut. Mr. White (Tom Hanks) assigns The Wonders their personas -- Guy's mystique stands in contrast to his clean-cut bandmates.

The movie is not a musical, yet it does revolve entirely around one song: the title track that is featured ad nauseam throughout. Possibly the catchiest song ever written, the anthem stormed the Billboard charts in the fall of 1996, making the ditty a bigger hit than the movie ever was. The movie doesn't officially come with a "Small World" warning, so allow me to issue one now: watch this movie, and you'll be singing "That Thing You Do" for the rest of your life. Fortunately, it's a great song, so as life sentences go, you could do worse.

Hanks performs admirably in all three of his roles (four if you count his hand in developing the songs), most notably as author of this rather clever script. That praise only applies to the first 100 minutes or so, however. The movie's abrupt ending is an utter disappointment. As if Hanks ran out of time and set down the pen, the story runs at full steam and comes to a screeching halt when what should be the climax instead becomes the conclusion with only one loose end tied up and a few quick screens of text providing resolution for the rest.

That Thing You Do! isn't the most memorable ride, but it is a fun one (at least until it breaks down a few feet before the exit). It's a movie everyone should enjoy but only some may want to own. Still, given that it's highly rewatchable in spite of its lackluster ending, it's easy to see how this comedy might generate enough interest to warrant a two-disc Special Edition DVD. That's exactly what Fox has bestowed upon the film, recently issuing Tom Hanks' Extended Cut. As that moniker suggests, the set offers an all-new cut of the film that has apparently been prepared by the writer-director-actor himself. Thankfully, this doesn't mean that the theatrical cut has been left out, as is all too often the case. Instead, both versions are presented on the first disc thanks to the magic of seamless branching.

As Tina, Charlize Theron sees a lot more screentime in Tom Hanks' extended cut of "That Thing You Do!". It's a movie within a movie and Tom Hanks is still front and center!

The new cut runs 39 minutes longer than the original, but ultimately amounts to little in the way of significant difference. A few elements make a little more sense, some scenes and events are completely recut and rearranged. Montages that were only musical before now contain dialogue, for example. On the other hand, there are a few cases in which less was more.
Most expanded is the role of Tina Powers (Charlize Theron), whose out-of-nowhere affair with her dentist in the theatrical cut progresses in full detail here. Unfortunately, the ending is the least altered aspect of the movie and the alterations made there are no more satisfactory than the original.

Among the additions are early conversations between Guy and Tina, an earlier use of Guy's trademark "Spartacus" exclamation, Guy bumping Fay's car with his, Guy presenting Tina's ideas for Patterson's Appliances to his dad, more footage of an injured Chad (Giovanni Ribisi) lying on the ground, an earlier dispute over the tempo for "That Thing You Do", more early rehearsal, additional disputes amongst the band, several scenes of flirtation between Guy and Fay, Jimmy convincing Uncle Bob (Chris Isaak) to record a B-side for the single, an extended performance of "That Thing You Do" that ends with a fire extinguisher prank and mass riot, Guy's father's first meeting with manager Phil Horace (Chris Ellis), the group lamenting their absence on the radio, the distribution of portable radios that played an important role in the theatrical cut, the return of Chad, the band celebrating their big break on an empty stage, a dressing room mix-up, more of Faye's poignant break-up monologue, Guy calling the local jazz DJ and receiving a job offer, Guy interviewing Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs) for the radio, a conversation between Faye and the bellhop, and more conversation between Guy and Faye at the hotel diner that includes his catching her up to speed about the band's dissolution. Finally, the end credits are extended to cover the added footage.

In all, I counted 32 instances of diversion, many of which include a number of changes within them. Overall, the fuller extended cut provides the most complete experience of the film. Is it worth the extra half hour it takes to watch it, though? Probably not. It's nice to better understand the story and further explore the movie once or twice but it comes at the price of mild fatigue. I recommend watching the extended cut every once in a while but first-timers will be more impressed by the theatrical cut.

Buy That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks' Extended Cut DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.0 (English),
Dolby Surround 2.0 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, Spanish;
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 8, 2007
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Black Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover

VIDEO and AUDIO

The movie is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, the ratio of its original theatrical exhibition. The quality is pretty good, though not perfect, with the picture a little softer than one would like. However, whether it's due to more breathing room on the DVD, remastering efforts, or both, the new transfer does look considerably better than that of the 2001 DVD release -- it's cleaner, sharper, and more vividly colorful.

Still from the original That Thing You Do! DVD: The Wonders play their trademark song in their first televised appearance. Still from That Thing You Do! Tom Hanks' Extended Cut DVD. Still doing that thing they do in the new and improved 2007 transfer.

Screencap from the movie's 2001 DVD

Screencap of same frame from this Extended Cut DVD

The 5.0 Dolby Digital track seems to be unchanged from the 2001 DVD. It gets the job done and satisfies in terms of sound quality. Volume levels differ drastically from one scene to the next, however, meaning you'll want your remote by your side, especially when a song is waiting in the wings. Channel mixing is inconsistent too; sometimes all speakers are fully active while the supporting channels are at other times dead. At all times, bass levels are less booming than they could be, thanks largely to that missing .1 in the audio track.

BONUS FEATURES

All of the bonus features are confined to Disc 2, which begins with a music video for "Feel Alright" (2:32) by the late Josh Clayton-Felt (of School of Fish), a Wonders-esque tune that is presented with various clips from the movie. It's followed by a platter of featurettes that comprise the bulk of the disc.

"The Wonders! Big in Japan!" (6:58) follows the cast-turned-real-life-band's mini-tour of songs from the film in Japan. "The Story of the Wonders" (30:48) features Tom Hanks pointlessly telling us what happens in the movie, but there's some great insight mixed in. "Making That Thing You Do!" (13:43) profiles the creation of the project, the pitch to the studio, the casting, and the production itself, all in brief detail. "That Thing You Do! Reunion" (10:16) brings together Tom Everett Scott, Johnathon Schaech, Ethan Embry, and Charlize Theron to reflect on the film and its reception. While Steve Zahn appears via a separately recorded interview, Liv Tyler and Tom Hanks are notably absent, but it's still nice to see how much the film means to much of the principal cast.

If you've skipped the movie and headed straight to Disc 2, you're in luck -- Tom Hanks will take half an hour to tell you all about it. Behind the Music: The Wonders -- the band rehearses in the making-of featurette. Johnathon Schaech, Charlize Theron, Tom Everett Scott, and Ethan Embry get together in 2007 to talk about that thing they did in 1996.

All of these extras are new to this set, some of them newly produced and some of them clearly from the time of release. Each contains plenty of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. By the time you get to "HBO First Look - The Making of That Thing You Do!" (13:01), which is carried over from the 2001 DVD, you've already seen almost everything contained within it in the other featurettes. You can't fault Fox for including it, but those who have already watched the other extras can safely skip this.

Three English theatrical trailers are included (about two minutes each). In comparison, the 2001 DVD had only two but also included two Spanish trailers and two Italian trailers, none of which are found here. Additionally, there is one TV spot (0:32) included, down five from the six that were on the 2001 DVD.
I can't think of a good reason for not including the nine missing pieces on the new set, but the addition of a third trailer -- and the inclusion of any trailer at all (more than many films' DVDs offer) -- still earns a big thumbs up.

Also missing are the music videos for "That Thing You Do" and "Dance With Me Tonight" that were on the previous DVD. They easily could have been carried over, but they're essentially just scenes from the movie, so consumers aren't missing much. Still, why a new music video was produced for a song that isn't even on the soundtrack as opposed to these is a mystery.

All this makes for a pretty good second disc. Obviously, an audio commentary on Disc One would have gone a long way, preferably featuring Hanks talking about the movie and explaining the rationale behind the extended cut -- something that isn't referenced at all in any of the bonus features. In fact, any post-1996 appearance from Hanks at all would have been appreciated. (A little Liv Tyler would be nice too.) Aside from that, the set is as complete as one can reasonably expect.

Disc 2 takes you behind-the-scenes, here looking at the filming of The Wonders' rehearsal sessions. Tom Hanks look-alike Tom Everett Scott discusses his role as Guy Patterson in That Thing You Do! The 16x9 Disc 1 main menu has a couple of tricks up its digital sleeve.

MENUS and PACKAGING

The main menus are nicely designed and a lot of fun (more on this in a moment). The discs are housed in a black keepcase that is adorned with attractive cover art that keeps supporting player Hanks in the spotlight but gives the rest of the cast a little more credit in comparison with the last DVD, with the exception of Liv Tyler, who is relegated to the back cover. Inside the case is a two-page article on the movie, a chapter index, and a flyer for other Tom Hanks films and Fox Special Edition DVDs. There is a cardboard slipcover that matches the keepcase artwork.

It's worth noting that the Scene Selection menu has been reorganized and redesigned for the better, but still corresponds with the theatrical cut when the main menu first appears. After selecting "Play Movie" and then "Play Extended Cut", however, the Scene Selection menu will correspond with the extended version.

There is an Easter Egg of sorts on the Disc 1 main menu. In the bottom-right corner of the screen, one will find a speed dial that will either speed up or slow down "That Thing You Do" as it plays. Unfortunately, this is not available for "All My Only Dreams" on Disc 2. This is just the very kind of thing a DVD Easter Egg should be and perhaps the coolest feature on this DVD!

The Wonders rock out atop a giant Playtone record. Part of a real-life rock & roll pedigree herself, Liv Tyler stars as Faye, the ever-present companion who comes up with the band's name.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

For Tom Hanks, "That Thing You Do" turned out to be a lot more than just acting. The first-time writer and director performs admirably in this music-based comedy, with only the poor ending holding it back. Excellent acting from a very strong (now star-studded) cast, a good sense of humor, clever writing, and a wonderful soundtrack make That Thing You Do! quite an enjoyable movie. The new extended cut offers a few scenes of interest but ultimately, it is the greatly expanded set of bonus features and improved video quality that make this an easy upgrade for fans of the film. Though a few obvious omissions and some audio problems hold the set back, this two-disc DVD should be a welcome addition to any collection.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Across the Universe • Shine a Light • Dreamgirls (2-Disc Showstopper Edition) • Night at the Museum (2-Disc Special Edition)
Tom Hanks: Big (Extended Edition) • Forrest Gump (15th Anniversary Giftset) • Toy Story (Blu-ray & DVD) • Toy Story 2 (Blu-ray & DVD)
Ellen: The Complete Season Four (1996-97) • Home Improvement: The Complete Sixth Season (1996-97)
1996 Movies: Sling Blade (Director's Cut) • Jack • Bottle Rocket (Criterion Collection) • Jingle All the Way (Family Fun Edition)

The Cast of That Thing You Do!:
Johnathon Schaech: Prom Night (2008) | Steve Zahn: Strange Wilderness • Chicken Little
Tom Everett Scott: Air Buddies • Race to Witch Mountain | Ethan Embry: A Far Off Place • Vacancy
Peter Scolari: Perfect Harmony | Alex Rocco: The Godfather • A Bug's Life | Kevin Pollak: The Santa Clause 2
Charlize Theron: Hancock • In the Valley of Elah | Liv Tyler: Armageddon (Blu-ray)

UltimateDisney.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

UltimateDisney.com/DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed May 22, 2007.



Text copyright 2007 UltimateDisney.com. Images copyright 1996/2007 20th Century Fox. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.