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
Film: That Thing You Do!
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