The other night I plunked down with some popcorn (we really wanted pizza but IT WAS SNOWING) and the DVD of That Thing You Do, Tom Hanks’ paean to the starry-eyed musical hit machine of the 1960s and one likeable group’s rollercoaster rise to stardom.
Mostly I thought to pick it up again because of the Scripture-quoting Chris Isaak cameo (blink and you miss it, but it always makes me smile) and the toe-tapping bubblegum tunes, but doing what I do now (for sport, this blogging business) I have to admit that I found the whole plotline about how the music industry “used to” work to be very interesting. Sure, all those staid mechanisms are still grinding along, but I was excited by all the avenues that exist for new music today. You no longer have to sign with a big glittery major label to have your work heard, or sit and hope that a major radio show plays your stuff as they did in this film (although they were pretty proactive in making their own records). I know the movie is all fictional, but hey — I think about these things.
I’ve always considered the title song “That Thing You Do” to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, although pleasurable as anything to drum along with, to with all the rat-tat-tat beats and sugar sweet harmonies. I’d never examined its musical pedigree before, but was thrilled to see that it was actually penned (along with two other songs from the movie) by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, and sung by Mike Viola. Now I can feel just a bit better about its lineage — even though most of the other soundtrack songs were written by Tom Hanks. Really? He must be a serious music geek, there were definitely elements of that uberfandom in the film, like with Guy’s geek dream jam session with fictional jazz musician Del Paxton. You couldn’t help but feel all happy inside with that scene, and ponder who you would want to stumble upon your noodling in the studio and sit in to lay down some tape with you.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen this movie (last time I watched it I believe I still had a serious crush on Johnathan Schaech) so I forgot that it boasts one of the best movie pickup lines that you can watch in front of your grandma, penned in great quotable sense of old black and white movies:
“When was the last time you were decently kissed? I mean truly, truly good and kissed?”
It makes women of all ages swoon, in very PG way. I dug up a few tunes to enjoy from the manufactured imaginary world of girl groups and doo-wop quartets of yesteryear in the soundtrack.
Voyage Around The Moon – The Saturn 5
(I thought for sure Chris Isaak was playing on this jangly surf delight. I was wrong)
Shrimp Shack – Cap’n Geech And The Shrimp Shack Shooters
(“Good news guys. You get to keep the clothes.”)
She Knows It – The Heardsmen
That Thing You Do – The Wonders