That Thing You Do!

Tom Hanks turns writer-director in a pleasant and energetic 1996 feature set in 1964, about four friends from Erie, Pennsylvania, who form a rock band and have a hit, then reach Los Angeles and the big time and see what’s in store for them. Hanks, playing their manager, seems to take a certain pleasure in portraying someone sleazy for a change. 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, and his economy in evoking the flavor of the period at the beginning of the picture is priceless. With Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Charlize Theron, and Ethan Embry. (JR)

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