That Thing you do

Fun and reflection for those who have forgotten nostalgia or never had a chance to know it. Maybe you never heard of the 'Wonders' (once spelled 'One-ders'), but that's no wonder at all, because they never existed. Try to imagine a sort of American- styled Beatles group who top the charts with their first release (everybody ready for the title?) called 'That Thing You Do.' Will they be the nation's new heartthrobs or will they only be One-Hit Wonders?

Although the action is supposed to be taking place in the 60's, it seems more like the 50's. Director-writer-actor Tom Hanks makes his bid for the Big screen with a project that might have better been left to the adept hands of Penny Marshall. Tom Everett Scott, who plays the lead role of Guy Patterson, could almost be an alter-ego of Tom Hanks; not only do they share the same first name and several physical attributes and mannerisms, but Hanks could easily have played Scott's role if he were only a few years younger. Hanks does manage, however, to find a corner for his acting talents by appearing as the rock-star manager who promotes the band. The result is a tepid entertainment. All of the music incorporated into the film has been especially written for the project and remains, obviously in its attempt to conjure up the atmosphere of a not-too-distant past, reminiscent of various groups from the targeted period, most of whom were under contract to the famous 'play-tone' label (get it?). Even the title song strikes memory chords from popular Liverpudlian hits like 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' and 'You Won't See Me.'

Tom Everett Scott could have been Doris Day's boy next door in another era, Liv Tyler shows more and more of her force forging ahead as an actress, and Ethan Embry shows a spark bound to ignite in the future. Competent performances all round make for enjoyable viewing, but I believe that, when all is said and done, Tak Fujimoto's photography helped rescue what might have wound up being nothing more than an updated version of 'Happy Days.' In other words, it would seem that the film is successful in appealing to either those young at heart or young in age. What the hell, it's harmless fun?

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett