Tom Hanks gives another brilliant performance, this time as a band manager for a fictional record company.
A group of small town teens from Erie Pennsylvania have an amazing sound and a catchy song that gets Hanks attention. He weans them along slowly while the lead singer thinks it is too slow. As their popularity grows (and they take the name The Wonders), the lead singer's patience wanes and he feels too big for his girlfriend (Liv Tyler), who has stood by him through the band's struggles to get to the top. As he pushes her away, she drifts more towards the band's drummer, who seems to be the most caring of the group.
The movie has an amazing scene where the drummer goes to a "jazz" club and meets his all time idol, who turns out to be a regular guy and not the prima donna that the Wonders' lead singer is.
Though the groups and the songs were made for the movie, they all sound like they could have been made in the 60's and would have been definate hits!
I am surprised that this movie was not a mega-hit because it is really that good.
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Tom Hanks's debut as a writer and director is a lively, affectionate account of the shooting-star career of a forgotten (fictional) '60s pop-rock band called The Wonders--as in "one-hit wonders." Hanks plays the manager of the group, which includes drummer Guy "Sticks" Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) who works the floor at his parents' appliance store in Erie, Pennsylvania; Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), the talented and temperamental lead singer and songwriter; Lenny (Steve Zahn), the goofy guitarist; and Ethan Embry as a geeky little fellow identified in the cast list only as "The Bass Player." The movie traces their meteoric rise and fall, from cutting their first record, to going on tour with a Phil Spector/Motown-type revue, to the internal tensions that lead to the band's disintegration, which comes when they fail to follow up their smash hit single, "That Thing You Do!" And that song, by the way, is so catchy it would definitely have been a hit in 1964--and deserves to be one today. This delightful movie would make a great double-bill with Allison Anders's wonderfulGrace of My Heart.--Jim Emerson