F.I.L.M. of the Week (January 3, 2014)

3 01 2014

Tom Hanks, even at the relatively young age of 57, is such a legend of the screen that every role he takes is reason for excitement.  (Unless it’s “Larry Crowne.”)  2013 graced us with not just one but TWO Hanks performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” at least one of which is likely to result in an Oscar nomination.  The two-time winner hardly needs any recognition for his acting prowess, nor does he need to be lauded for his producing skills (the man has 5 Emmys sitting on his mantle).

What does deserve some attention, though, is Hanks’ directorial debut “That Thing You Do.” (We’ll just pretend “Larry Crowne” didn’t happen, just like American audiences did.)  My pick for “F.I.L.M. of the Week” shows a fun-loving, crowd-pleasing side to Hanks that will make you wish he was sitting in the director’s chair as often as the producer’s seat.

The film follows a would-be Beatles boy band, the Wonders (formerly the One-Ders), as they rise from garage obscurity to Billboard chart-topping fame.  None of it would have happened, though, without the inspired improvisation of replacement drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott) that turns the song “That Thing You Do” from a ballad into an up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll number.  From there, they acquire a swanky manager played by Hanks himself, go on tour, perform on television … and deal with all the motion sickness caused by such a meteoric ascent to stardom.

Thanks to HBO, I’ve seen “That Thing You Do” dozens of times over the past 15 years or so, and I’ve never tired of it.  (For that same reason, I’ve only seen it start to finish a handful of times.)  Similarly, I still listen to the movie’s soundtrack frequently; it’s got a number of ditties that you can have stuck in your head for days.  The whole movie, really, is such a delight.  It’s a toe-tapper of a musical with plenty of dramatic tension and rich characters that’s wonderfully orchestrated by Maestro Hanks.