While the original release of That Thing You Do on DVD, released in 2001, was not exactly barebones, the disc wasn’t packed either. Trailers, TV spots, music videos and a single featurette were all that graced this delightful movie, but now a two-disc “Tom Hanks’ Extended Cut” is arriving on DVD, alongside a two-disc release of another Hanks’ favorite, Big and it creates a much more enjoyable and balanced release for the film.
For those unfamiliar with this film (which would be understandable, despite being written, directed and starring Tom Hanks, it’s one of his films I hear the least about), That Thing You Do! follows the creation and separation of the one-hit wonder band The Wonders. Set during the era when The Beatles were taking the world by storm, That Thing You Do! focuses on the heartbeat of the band (the drummer), Guy Patterson. Leaving his family’s store behind to tour with The Wonders after they score a hit with their song “That Thing You Do!”, Guy and the rest of the band are thrown into a whirlwind of touring, movie and TV appearances. While everything seems to be going right for the band, in the end the singer and band creator, Jimmy, quits while the bassist, never named, and lead guitarist, Lenny, disappear on the day the band is supposed to record their next record. The band is quickly disbanded but Guy finds a life in LA in the Jazz scene.
My summary is desperately dumbed down and the film packs so many more colorful characters into the series than just the four band mates. Jimmy’s girlfriend, Faye Dolan (played by Liv Tyler) is just as much a member of the band as the rest of the guys and she single handedly creates one of the most heartbreaking scenes towards the end of the film. In addition, Tom Hanks plays the manager of The Wonders that is constantly keeping them out of trouble and telling Lenny to shut up. For the characters alone, That Thing You Do! is worth watching, but the story, music and directing all keep you enthralled in the world of the 60s that Tom Hanks did so well to transport us to.
Both the original and extended cuts of this film are included on this new DVD release and both are worth watching in their own right. While the original cut is the one I grew up with, the new cut, with thirty minutes of extra footage, adds more depth to the characters and film and doesn’t weaken the performances or pace of the film at all. The extra footage blends into the film perfectly, both aesthetically and visually. It’s easy to recommend either cuts, but if it’s your first time watching the film you’ll likely prefer the new cut over the old as it offers the viewer more time to immerse themselves in the story.
Do yourself a favor and pick up this release. After watching it, feel free to email me so we can discuss just how long the title song from “That Thing You Do!” sticks in your head—even a day after watching it and I still have it stuck in my head. Perhaps they played that catchy tune just a little too much…
Packaged in a standard two-disc amaray case with a cardboard slip, That Thing You Do! features colorful art throughout the packaging, including the disc and booklet inside. The two-page booklet covers the production and details of the film and includes a chapter listing on the back. Like the outside art, the menu art is brightly colored and is easy to navigate.
Video and audio on this release is strong and clear. Video is clean and clear and the added footage in the extended cut meshes well with the rest of the transfer and doesn’t stick out in the least. Audio is a curious 5.0 audio mix (first I’ve seen) which is a shame, as I’m sure the intense drumming done by Guy could have benefitted with a subwoofer channel. Still, the music is clean and clear and makes for a lively surround track, even if the .1 is curiously missing. Very strange.
While the film features no commentary (a shame, but it’s Tom Hanks—guess getting him to record commentaries would be difficult), the second disc includes plenty of new and old footage. Most of the featurettes consist of older footage, aside from the “The Wonders – Big in Japan!” and “That That Thing You Do! Reunion” featurettes. These two feature some new cast and crew interviews, with the reunion receiving the brunt of new material. All of The Wonders are interviewed, sans Liv Tyler, although we are joined by Charlize Theron (that’s one Oscar winner that showed up for this release, anyway!) who offers her insight on the movie. Despite her playing a minor character in this film, she has a lot to say about the film, which goes to show you how much she enjoyed working on it and watching it.
Other featurettes are general post-release interviews that we see after the film’s release. The HBO first look is promotional fluff and some of the interviews seen here are repeated in the other featurettes, but overall the featurettes are all well worth watching. They run just the right amount of time and give the viewer a better understanding of the film and a sense of just how much fun it was to work on it.
Overall compared to the last release this set received, it’s hard not to recommend this new two-disc. Unlike some studios, Fox seems to have done this release right and while the lack of commentary (of any kind) and the odd 5.0 track make for a slightly uneven DVD, the special features and two cuts of the film more than make up for the short comings of this disc. If you don’t already own it (and honestly, even if you already do), pick up That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks’ Extended Cut – it’s well worth your time and money. This release comes Highly Recommended.
“That Thing You Do!” Tom Hanks’ Extended Edition arrives on DVD May 8th.