Most Frequented Film: That Thing You Do!

This was a tough topic for me– do I go with the childhood VHS that I wore out? The junior high Friday night tradition? Or one of the high school staples that I quoted incessantly?

But the more I thought about it, I decided this would be an opportune time to highlight my second favorite movie of all time– one I’m scarcely allowed to watch with people anymore because I can barely restrain myself from quoting it.

That Thing You Do! follows the rise and fall of a fictional late 50’s rock and roll band. Jimmy, Lenny, Chad and their Bass Player (who remains nameless throughout the movie, but is played by Ethan Embry) are a quartet of musicians from Erie, PA, trying to break into the music scene. They call themselves The Oneders. (Because you know how the Beatles use an “ea” as the “Beatles”? They use an “O-N-E” like the ONE-ders.) But when Chad breaks his arm in a freak parking meter accident, the guys are forced to track down Erie’s lone beatnik, a drummer named Guy “Skitch” Patterson to take his place for an upcoming gig.

Unlike a few of the other films mentioned, this one doesn’t necessarily grab you from the opening scene. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of witty dialogue in the first half hour, but it’s not until The Oneders nervously speed through their maiden performance of a would-be ballad at the Mercyhurst College talent show that you find yourself truly sucked into the story of these four fellas and their lovely, faithful band-aid, Faye.

There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie. Signing the record deal in the camper, the post-show conversation at the table at Villapianos, recording with Uncle Bob, singing “Dance With Me Tonight” in the Land of Lincoln, filming Weekend at Party Pier as Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters and of course, playing the illustrious Hollywood Television showcase.

But the best part of the whole movie, is right here. I’m convinced there isn’t much in the world more joyful than this scene, which happens about a week after the Oneders sign a contract with their new manager, Phil Horris.

You have to be smiling right now. 🙂

In a time when simple, feel-good films are few and far between, I’m always delighted when I meet a person who missed this mid-nineties gift from Tom Hanks. My best friend introduced me to this movie when I was 15 and I haven’t stopped working it into conversation since. It’s so easy! All you have to do is say something as simple as “Wonderful!” or “Wait, where was I?” or “Any questions?” or “I’m not here with these guys…”  to launch any fan of this movie into a running dialogue of their favorite scenes. It is a delightful, colorful, hilarious celebration of American rock and roll and every one-hit wonder band you’ve ever known and loved.

That Thing You Do!— you are. my biggest fan.

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3 thoughts on “Most Frequented Film: That Thing You Do!

  1. I just showed that clip to Jonah; he smiled, giggled and screeched the whole way through. I think you’ve made another fan. 🙂

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