42% Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Aug 22
41% If I Stay Aug 22
19% When The Game Stands Tall Aug 22
8% Are You Here Aug 22
96% Love Is Strange Aug 22

Top Box Office

20% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $28.5M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $25.1M
15% Let's Be Cops $17.8M
34% The Expendables 3 $15.9M
32% The Giver $12.3M
20% Into The Storm $7.9M
65% The Hundred-Foot Journey $7.2M
65% Lucy $5.5M
39% Step Up: All In $2.7M
61% Hercules $2.1M

Coming Soon

0% The November Man Aug 27
98% Starred Up Aug 27
—— As Above/So Below Aug 29
86% The Congress Aug 29
—— The Calling Aug 29

Premieres Tonight

33% BoJack Horseman: Season 1

New Episodes Tonight

—— Jonah From Tonga: Season 1
86% The Knick: Season 1

Discuss Last Night's Shows

100% Defiance: Season 2
100% Garfunkel and Oates: Season 1
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
56% Married: Season 1
95% Rectify: Season 2
—— Rookie Blue: Season 5
39% Rush: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
82% Welcome to Sweden: Season 1
41% Working the Engels: Season 1
77% You're the Worst: Season 1

That Thing You Do! (1996)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 50 | Rotten: 4

A light, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining debut for director Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 1

A light, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining debut for director Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 125,183

My Rating

Movie Info

Tom Hanks made his directorial debut in this bright comedy set in the mid-1960's about a rock group and their brief fling with fame. Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) works as a salesman at his father's appliance store and plays the drums in his spare time, fancying himself a jazz musician. One day, a buddy of Guy's tells him a local rock band, The One-Ders (it's pronounced "wonders"), are in need of a drummer -- they have Battle of the Bands coming up and their usual timekeeper has broken his


Comedy, Kids & Family

Tom Hanks

Jun 5, 2001

20th Century Fox

Watch It Now


Latest News on That Thing You Do!

November 9, 2005:
Romero to Bring Another King Story to the Big Screen
Variety reports that genre legend George Romero will direct "From a Buick 8," which will...


Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

All Critics (55) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (4) | DVD (22)

Though Hanks keeps the satirical and critical aspects of this look at show biz fairly light, there's a lot of conviction and savvy behind the steadiness of his gaze.

December 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

First-time writer/director Tom Hanks stays about a half-beat ahead of the cliches with rim shots of boyish enthusiasm and deft comedy. The movie's also buoyed by the title song, whose Beatles sound is infectious enough to merit a real hit.

December 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A sweet, likeable tale of the quick rise to fame and then demise of a small town band. Set in 1964, Hanks' film offers a sanitized, Gump-ish look at a mythical period when boys were boys and girls were girls, with no references to the sex-drug subculture

January 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sweet nothing, then, but what would you expect of a rock movie devoted to the drummer?

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Hanks's debut feature, written and directed with delightful good cheer, is rock-and-roll nostalgia presented as pure fizz.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though Hanks doesn't serve up much context, he's solid with details, and the Wonders' performances ring truer than most.

November 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

'That Thing You Do!' has an air of nostalgia and likeable characters that make us believe their story and their time, and a strong narrative backbeat to power this light musical comedy.

April 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Tom Hanks directorial effort is a decent film overall, but nothing that would ever inspire to re-visit again and again with fondness.

March 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Sweet, sleepy take on flash-in-the-pan '60s band.

December 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A movie as catchy and likable as the title song.

July 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Whereas Dances With Wolves was an epic cultural tract, That Thing You Do! is a piece of entertaining bubblegum which, like its director, making his feature directorial debut, is high on charm and style.

May 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

A barely there-tale of rock 'n' roll dreams, driven by the infectious title tune.

December 17, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

An undeniably delightful film. It makes you smile and want to dance, and (for better or worse) it's titular theme song won't leave your head for days.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Calgary Movies
Calgary Movies

A simple, rather sweet and uncomplicated, rock and roll fable.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

With its exuberant tempo and danceable Beatlesque theme song, That Thing You Do will win the hearts of a broad audience.

June 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Uma história simples, contada de maneira também simples, que acaba agradando por suas boas intenções.

January 1, 2004
Cinema em Cena

Hanks sacrificed character complexity, but at least some period details are right.

October 29, 2003 Full Review

An amusing directorial debut by Hanks

June 19, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Short on substance but long on charm, That Thing You Do! is a lively, entertaining fable about a makeshift rock 'n' roll band that enjoys a brief moment of fame in the summer of 1964.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Tom Hanks' writing-directing debut is a sweet valentine to rock 'n' roll.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

A romantic romp as sweet and bubbly as a Coke float.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Audience Reviews for That Thing You Do!

Too much adlibbing.
November 7, 2013
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

In every life there comes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.

Good movie with a happy ending for everyone. The movie features one of my favorite actors of all-time Tom Hanks and even though he's not a big part of the film you can't help but feel his touch in this movie and it was great. The film's plot is fairly simple, yet it doesn't veer off into the typical VH1 Behind The Music avenue of excessive sex and drugs. The cast was amazing, lots of good and funny actors, all contributing to fine piece of film.

The film follows the career of the Erie, Pennsylvania, rock band that formed in the middle of the Britsih Invasion following the Beatles success. Guy Patterson, son of a local appliance store owner and a good drummer who idolizes jazz, is involved in a shallow relationship with Tina Powers.

He is asked by rhythm guitarist/singer Jimmy Mattingly and lead guitarist/singer Lenny Haise to substitute for their unnamed beat group's regular drummer, Chad, who has broken his arm, at that night's annual Gannon College talent show in an attempt to win the $100 first prize. Rounding out the group is the band's never-named bass player T.B. Player. They are to play a ballad written by Jimmy, "That Thing You Do", which they rehearse in a garage. At the suggestion of Jimmy's girlfriend Faye Dolan, inspired by a comment from Guy, they adopt the name "The Oneders" (pronounced "ONE-ders"), but it is almost always mispronounced as the "oh-NEE-ders."

At the talent show, Guy sets the beat substantially faster than its original ballad tempo. Although the rest of band struggles to keep up, everybody gets up to dance to it, they overwhelmingly win the $100 top prize, and they get their first paying gig, at a pizza parlor near the airport.

After a fan requests their record, they enlist the help of Guy's Uncle Bob, who records songs and sermons for churches and choirs, to record and cut the song on vinyl, which Faye sells at their gig. Talent scout Phil Horace sees them play, buys a record and introduces himself to Guy at the appliance store. Based on Horace's promise that he will get them radio airplay and performance bookings in big cities like Pittsburgh and Steubenville, The Oneders sign him as their manager, despite Jimmy's initial reluctance to assign rights to his music.

Horace is successful: the song is played three times in one day on WJET and they are booked at a gig in Pittsburgh sponsored by well-known mattress salesman "Boss Vic Koss". Although the first set is a failure due to a series of technical mishaps, Horace has secretly arranged for a record company A&R (Artist & Repetoire) man, Mr. White to see the show.

He is impressed by their record, buys the band's contract, signs the band to his employer (the Play-Tone record label), changes the spelling of their name to The Wonders, and decides that Guy should always wear sunglasses on stage and be known as "Shades" as a gimmick. He also arranges for Faye to accompany the band as "wardrobe mistress." At the same time, Tina (not very impressed with Guy's newfound semi-stardom) falls in love with her new dentist and dumps Guy. Alongside other Play-Tone artists, the band tours state fairs across the Midwest, and the single enters and climbs the Billboard Top 100.

As the tour progresses, The Wonders go from being the opening act to the feature attraction, even earning band-specific stage decorations. Throngs of teenage girls mob the band at one tour stop. While on tour, Jimmy engages in an affair with aging siren Diane Dane. When the song hits the Top 10, the band is ordered to leave the tour in Wisconsin and head for Hollywood for a slot on The Hollywood Television Showcase. On the airplane, White announces that the band also will be appearing in a major motion picture and, at Jimmy's urging, doing a recording session for an album, while Faye comes down with a severe cold. Meanwhile, in Erie, original drummer Chad has taken Guy's place as a salesman at Patterson's Appliance.

While at a promotional photo shoot at Play-Tone records corporate headquarters they meet Sol Siler, the owner, who wants his deli (luncheon spread) more than meeting the talent. White has also made arrnagements for the Wonders to appear as "Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters" in a film, Weekend at Party Pier, a beach movie typical in the 60s. Jimmy becomes disillusioned and sulks. During an off day, the bass player abandons the band to visit Disneyland with a group of Marine Corps sargents, whose ranks he had previously committed to join.

Alone, Guy goes to a jazz club, where he meets his idol, jazz pianist Del Paxton, and drinks with him until closing time. The next day, experienced studio bassist Scott "Wolfman" Pell joins The Wonders in placve of the Marine ensconsed bass player for a live performance on The Hollywood Television Showcase. During the Wonders live performance, the words "Careful girls, he's engaged!" are captioned on the screen beneath Jimmy's image (an homage to "Sorry girls, he's married!" to John Lennon on the Ed Sullivan Show, which is referred to in the film). After the show, an angry Jimmy rudely tells Faye and the rest of the band that he is not engaged and that he doesn't intend to marry Faye. Hurt by Jimmy's callousness and insensitivity, Faye ends their relationship.

At the recording session the next day, the Wonders learn that they are to record songs from the Play-Tone catalog for their album. White promises Jimmy one original song per side of the album, but makes it clear that he wants "snappy" material, not ballads. Jimmy promptly quits the band and walks out. Lenny never even shows up for the session (he went to Las Vegas with a Play-Tone secretary the night before and then married her). With the departure of everyone but Guy, there are no more Wonders.

Guy remains in the recording studio alone, as it was his first time in one, and his impromptu drumming catches the ear of Del Paxton, who is recording next door. The two record a jam session where Guy plays a drum routine entitled "I Am Spartacus" while Del improvises an accompanying piano part.

Back at their L.A. hotel, Guy tells Faye that Del thinks he can make it as a session musician in L.A., and Faye and Guy finally declare their love for one another. In a written epilogue, Guy and Faye remain in Los Angeles, marry the following year and raise four children, and found a music conservatory in which Guy teaches Jazz Composition. Jimmy rejoins Play-Tone and records three gold albums with a new band called The Heardsmen (his choice for the original Erie band). Lenny manages a casino in Laughlin NV, but he is now single. The Bass Player was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained while serving in the Marines, and becomes a building contractor in Florida.
June 11, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

I can't explain why I enjoy this movie so much. Yet it seems every time it is on TV, and it is on quite often, I always enjoy watching as much of it as I can, no matter which scene I happen to catch. There are only a few movies that do this to me. It must just be a reflection of me. Let's pretend it is due to an unhealthy appreciation of Steve Zahn, and leave it at that. But even so, this a fun fun toe tapping good romp of a time! ! Doesn't hurt that it is chock full of fantastic actors, too. :)
October 29, 2010

Super Reviewer

I really have reviewed this before, this is an outright classic. Never gets old. Fresh to deaf.
January 24, 2010
Lenny Muggsy

Super Reviewer

    1. Faye Dolan: Shame on me for kissing you with my eyes closed so tight.
    – Submitted by Debra W (17 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

Discussion Forum

Discuss That Thing You Do! on our Movie forum!

What's Hot On RT

Critics Consensus
Critics Consensus

Sin City 2 is a So-So Sequel

<em>The Simpsons</em>
The Simpsons

Catch up on 25 seasons of hilarity

Total Recall
Total Recall

Robert Rodriguez's 10 Best Movies

Worst Summer Movies
Worst Summer Movies

We list the 60 worst since 1975

Red Carpet Roundup
Red Carpet Roundup

Best red carpet pictures of the week

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile