Living In: That Thing You Do!

As a child, my sister possessed several ritualistic tendencies that one might categorize as obsessive. The act of making her bed, for example, involved using about ten separate blankets, each laid symmetrically upon her mattress. When getting ready for school, she set two alarms, with one that would go off at 4:30 so she could shower, return to sleep, and then wake up no earlier than she had to. One of her more peculiar (and public) ritualized behaviors, though, was her habit of watching the film That Thing You Do! in its entirety every single day after school. This might have been because my family didn’t have cable and it was one of the few VHS tapes that we owned, but I like to think that this daily activity was a testament to the film’s quality—it never gets old! Although I occasionally tired of my sister’s limited movie appetite, I have to admit that I, too, was often coerced into joining her daily viewing. Even today, nearly 20 years after its creation, this film seems as fresh and relevant as the day it was made.

Films made by actors are oftentimes written off as vanity pieces, but That Thing You Do, written and directed by Tom Hanks, is a treasure. Set during the 1960s, the film follows drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) and his band, The Wonders, as they rise from obscurity in Erie, PA to superstardom over the course of a summer. At once a delightful throwback musical and parable about the perils of fame, the film features dazzling set designs and some of the best original music I’ve ever heard in a film. To this day, the film’s title track never fails to put me in a great mood. —Max

1. Rayban Wayfarer Sunglasses | 2. Fender Mark Hoppus Bass Guitar | 3. Blue Suit | 4. Confetti System Garland | 5. Vintage Transistor Radio | 6. Loveseat | 7. Gretsch Drumset

1. Blumarine Gold Leaf Cocktail Dress | 2. Sharpie Marker | 3. Writing Pad | 4. Easy Chair | 5. Yellow Record Player | 6. Pink Princess Phone | 7. Alarm Clock | 8. United States Chalkboard Map

Film: That Thing You Do!

Year: 1996

Director: Tom Hanks

Starring: Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Tom Hanks, Steve Zahn, Jonathan Schaech, Ethan Embry, Charlize Theron

Production Design: Victor Kempster

Art Direction: Dan Webster

Set Decoration: Merideth Boswell

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood

  1. daveflynn says:

    I loved the movie That Thing You Do. I’ve been looking for a cool transistor radio for retro music playing. I have an old vintage camper I’m restoring that would work well. Thanks for the post : )

  2. pearlione says:

    iiiii i quit. i quit. i quit.
    i quit mister white.

  3. Seriously one of my favorite movies of all time…

    I want all of Liv’s clothes…

  4. Hannah Scott says:

    I absolutely adore that movie! The collections you’ve put together are spot on. Thanks for making me smile :)

  5. Maria G says:

    Absolutely love this movie! The soundtrack is still something that I’ll throw on while I’m cleaning my place! Awesome piece!

  6. Katie May says:

    I was just thinking yesterday that I had never seen this movie yet on the Living In posts…well done! One of my favorites…such a classic.

  7. Jeanmarie says:

    My very very favorite movie :)

  8. Caroline says:

    Totally obsessed with this movie! Fay might be the name of my firstborn…Jokes aside, the design and fashion inspiration is spot on. Love this post!

  9. I absolutely adore this movie! Such a fun post. Well done!

  10. Beth says:

    I loved that movie and need to re-watch. My favorite scene is when they hear their song on the radio for the first time and dance around the appliance store, turning on all the radios. Such fun! But….your sister. How’s she doing? Tell me she isn’t still waking at 4:30 to shower.

  11. Tim says:

    Take us there, Skitch!

  12. barchbo says:

    LOVE! I was singing the title track to my kids last night and thinking about what a classic it is!

  13. Anna says:

    I love this film, but every time I watch it I get the song stuck in my head for the next month!

  14. jen says:

    the o-ne-ders! :D

  15. Leah P says:

    I… I can’t believe it … I also watched this movie every single day in my middle school days. Every. single. day. Thanks for featuring it. Also, a tip to all the other fans that don’t know, the directors cut came out much later and it’s almost 2.5 hours long! The story actually changes a lot … you have to see it. Mr. White is gay!!!

  16. Catherine says:

    I think it was this movie that kicked off my love for everything 60s. I was 10 when it came out! Liv Tylers clothes, the music, the cars and furniture. Such a fun and happy movie!

  17. Martha says:

    I remember hearing an interview with Liv Tyler when this movie came out. She said it was such a fun group of people to work with that when she got home in the evenings, her face would be tired from laughing so hard.

  18. I love this series, another amazing compilation :3 retro lover!! this movie is cool
    the songs are very happy.

  19. Kelsey Oseid says:

    I <3 Max's posts so glad you're a regular

  20. shanaz packeer says:

    One of the best movies, with the best OST’s ever !!! I used to listen to the OST CD all the time and knew all the lyrics by heart !!!

    Awesome post !! thank you !! <3 <3 <3

  21. Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne write the title song…no wonder it’s so catchy and such a genuinely wonderful song. I agree-the whole soundtrack is great.

  22. That is a great feel good movie. You have nailed the essence with your picks! My favorite pick is the record player. There is just something special about manually putting a record on the record player; hearing the static as it starts to play, the actual feel of the needle dropping gently into the groove, as your favorite tune fills the room. That always make me feel good and happy.

  23. Danielle says:

    I love this movie and that scene where they first hear their song on the radio is one of my favorite movie moments ever. Great post!

  24. Erica. says:

    Wow thanks for the flashback! I love this movie , my mum was mad about it too! We used to play the hell out of the soundtrack!.”………Well I try and try to forget you girl! But its just so hard to do! Everytime you do that thing you do!”
    haha great songs and memories!

  25. Geraldine says:

    One of my favorite Click ‘n Stick movies ever!

  26. Shannon says:

    Ah! I adore this movie! Love all your choices too, as usual.

  27. Operion says:

    Nice post !
    Thanks for the sharing

  28. Rebekka says:

    How has it been almost 20 years!!! While we didn’t watch it every day, my sister and I have seen this at least 50 times. LOVE IT.

  29. Kimmay says:

    LOVE this movie. It actually came out in 1996 which isn’t quite 20 years (omg that makes me feel way old) but it’s still been quite some time! I was actually in a 60’s girl group in High School and I totally wanted to be like the characters in this film. Great style, great movie, great choice!

    xo Kimmay

  30. Kimmay says:

    One more thing: “The Oh-nee-ders!” hahahaha

  31. Just introduced my 14 year old daughter to TTYD. What a feel good movie. She loved it. I do hope she doesn’t watch it every day like your sister though!

  32. Allie says:

    WOW. Feeling old, 20ish years?! And Kimmay took my favorite quote right from my mouth. Love the Oh-neee-ders ;)

  33. Allison says:

    I date my deep and abiding crush on Steve Zahn to this movie. Still rock out to the awesome soundtrack, too.

  34. john says:

    love it? heck, i lived it! as a DAD from the 60’s era, it was a joy to me that my now 25ish daughters loved the movie, the music and the lifestyles! now where did i put that old transister radio……?

  35. Lauren Lou says:

    The Oh-nee-ders. I love this movie. Great “Living In” post!

  36. I only recently saw this film…and watched it three days in a row! Fantastic choice and great collections. And @Leah P – he is in the regular version, too!

  37. Kate Zim says:

    I was a student at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA (site of the Wonders first gig) in 1996. We were all pretty disappointed that all of the scenes they filmed on our gorgeous campus were cut. I actually disliked the movie then, but who knows, I was in my grunge & riot grrrl phase. Maybe it’s worth a revisit!

  38. suz says:

    Love this film. Also, one of the last to shoot at the famous (and now destroyed) Ambassador Hotel.

    The music is solid – I now have the title song in my head – was written and performed by Fountains of Wayne I think. Tom Hanks can be very proud of this film. Its pretty perfect. I watch it everytime its on :D

  39. Love the music from this movie,just reading about it brings the music back.

  40. Michele says:

    Love love LOVE this movie!

    I just saw the extended cut and noticed that’s it’s on the list of free outdoor movies this summer. I have to go see it (again)!!

  41. Katie says:

    LOVE That Thing You Do! The cheery music, cultural portrayal, and pop art design culture is so well done in this film! I almost can’t believe it’s been around for 20 years (although I first saw it between ten and fifteen years ago…)

    I can’t get enough of this one. What a great Living In selection!

  42. I love love love this movie and am so glad you featured it here. Funny enough, my grocery store was playing a cover of this last night, which I certainly don’t expect 17 years after the movie came out. Maybe it’s becoming a cult classic? ;-)

  43. Kat from Jersey says:

    Yay! Since I first found this column a few years ago, I was hoping that this little gem of a movie would be covered! One of my absolute favorite feel-good movies, that never gets tired (‘Shag’ is another one). Liv’s entire look is to die for. I’m always on the lookout for a train case like hers. “Well, I like Wisconsin!”


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