“I haven’t seen this movie in about fifteen years and I must talk about it.”
Hey, Johnny Roosevelt here, blah blah, no one has the energy for me to try to explain there is a staff of writers writing this and not just me. So, first, I’m going to tell you a personal story. Then, I’m going to make you all very sad for a brief moment. Then, I’m going to spend about 1,000 words talking about the end credits of a film released in 1996. I appreciate that the only reason you’re likely to get to the end of it is because what the fuck else is there to do now that it’s quarantine and you’ve somehow watched everything on Netflix. But I appreciate you reading past this paragraph.
First, a story. It’s about my personal relationship with a movie. Specifically, the movie That Thing You Do! from 1996.
Since this is a “Fun Facts” website, here’s a few fun facts about the film first.
- It was released in 1996 on a budget of $26 million, earning $34.5 million at the box office.
- The fact that it did not make $530 million proves that everyone who went to movies in 1996 is a full on asshole.
- It was the directorial debut of America’s Dad, Tom Hanks. He also wrote the film.
- Tom Hanks has only only directed one other film since (2011’s Larry Crowne.)
- It was nominated for an Academy Award for its title track. It lost to a song from Evita which proves that 1996 was indeed the darkest timeline.
- Tom Hanks cast his wife Rita Wilson in it for a cameo as a seductive and confident cocktail waitress who hits on the main character and introduces him to the Jazz player he idolizes the whole film, because I just wanted to tell you how wholesome Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are.
- That same actor got the role (his first ever in a film) despite the fact that Hanks was worried he looked too much like a young Tom Hanks. The reason? Rita Wilson thought he was cute. IT IS IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU THESE ADORABLE STORIES NOW MORE THAN EVER.
- The film takes place in 1964, following the brief 2-month career of a pop band who record a one-hit-wonder that reaches the Billboard Top 10.
- It currently holds a 93% score on RottenTomatoes, because 7% of critics apparently lack eyes, ears, heart, and a soul.
Now for a story. This film came out as I was a child (I was 10, sorry for bragging.) I straight up didn’t listen to current music until I was in high school—it was just Oldies. Well, I liked Oasis a lot in like 8th grade, which is another way of saying I just listened to Oldies. I had a pop-punk/ska phase (because I am a person with a punchable face) and eventually settled into a “listens to everything, but doesn’t really listen to much pop music, and listens to a lot of indie rock” state (because I finally grew fully into having a punchable face.)
So when this movie came out, I loved it. The music, which is very 60s, is peppy, upbeat, fun. My parents would play it in the car on repeat when we’d drive places. Because we actually bought the soundtrack, as a CD. And probably wore it out to the point it wouldn’t play today. Oh, and to age me even further, I’m sure we as a family watched it on VHS about a dozen times. At least.
It’s a movie that I love, and haven’t seen in years, and like most movies you watched on repeat as a child, only to ignore throughout your entire adult life, there is a genuine fear that when you revisit it as you grow older, it will lose its magic.
I can safely say, having just watched it again literally mere hours before posting this article, that is not the case. I love this movie as much now as I did when I was a child. Thank God.
Now for the sad part. I’m sorry! But I can’t talk about this movie without talking about this. So the title song, the Oscar-nominated one, had to be a song that was both A: believable as a 1964 pop sensation and B: a song that you could hear, at least a part of it, eleven times throughout an hour and forty minute movie, without getting sick of it. It was written, along with two other songs in the soundtrack (basically the majority of the fictional “One-ders/Wonders'” output) by a man named Adam Schlesinger.
Schlesinger, for those of you who don’t know, most recently was known for working on just about all the songs on the Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He also most often is mentioned as the songwriter for Fountains of Wayne, having written the silly (but delightful) Indie hit Stacy’s Mom. Yeah, the writer of such lyrics as “Stacy’s Mom has got it going on/ it’s all I want and I’ve been waiting so long” was nominated for an Oscar seven years prior.
He also is one of the more notable people who passed away from COVID-19. As I’m sure many of you knew. But I’d be a straight up asshole if I didn’t address that. Because fuck man. That sucks. This guy was. Just. Fuck that sucks.
But I’m here to distract you. And and of all the things in this entire 24-year-old movie that I could talk about, I’m going to focus on the silliest part of it.
And that’s just to break down the pure insanity of the closing credits of this classic film
GUYS WE CAN’T GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES. But yes, one of the songs was called Spartacus and it was written by, well, you can see. This is REAL LIFE.
So one thing I did not remember from previously watching this is that the bassist was never given a name. They just call him The Bass Player. Which, ha ha, is a joke on how no one cares about the bass player in a rock band. But they…really committed to the bit. Like REALLY leaned in.
But that’s not all! First of all, everyone is in this movie. Not only do you have Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Liv Tyler at the peak of her 90s popularity, the queen Charlize Theron (you forgot she was in this didn’t you!) you have random shit popping up like this.
Giovanni Ribisi, who you know as “that mousey guy from all those movies who also is, yikes, a Scientologist” appears in this film. If you blink twice you miss him. He plays, and this sentence is wild if you’ve not seen the movie so hold on, the band’s original drummer who breaks his arm trying to jump a parking meter while bored. He has, maybe, two lines?
…Two years later, he was again with Tom Hanks (who, remember, directed TTYD!) in Saving Private Ryan having a pretty depressing death scene (obv NSFW) but definitely a Real Actor in a Real Movie.
Oh, and you know Paul Feig? Okay, so he’s not an actor. But he’s a director. He did Spy, Bridesmaids, and created Freaks and Geeks. He also randomly is in this movie! Along with…….some costars.
Oh right! Let’s skip the fact that Tom Hanks cast his entire family in this movie (including a pre-“okay he’s a good actor!” Colin Hanks.) But Bryan Cranston plays famous astronaut Gus Grissom. It’s only for a brief scene, and it’s jarring!
Kevin Pollak was, I think, contractually obligated to be in like 30% of every movie in the 90s.
Ditto with Clint Howard.
Okay, okay. Okay. Just. Can we talk about how we have a 1-2-3 punch of “clearly fake names” that takes us on the wild ride from “Ginger Slaughter” to “Robert Wisdom” and ends with “Larry Antonio.” Why was every actor in this movie a couple trying to book a hotel room during prom with a fake name so no one can find out they boned?
Yo, listen, so I know I already did the sad part of this article. but I have one more just, deeply depressing thing to show you.
What’s worse is I just randomly picked one of these dancers assuming “like, this is gonna be their only IMDB credit, won’t it?”
The fact that Tom Hanks wrote so many songs in this makes me only love him that much more. I did not think that was possible.
Is…guys, is Mike okay?
Holy shit haha. Howard Shore, who did, you know, Lord of the Rings, has three Oscars to his name. He also composed six films that came out in 1996. One was this. Another was…Striptease. Hollywood is fucking wild.
If you think there’s a bigger point to this article, some brilliant, overarching connecting force that will make this speak to humanity or the power of creativity…nope! I just watched a movie I loved from my childhood, thought it still was awesome, and then realized that the credits had a lot of funny stuff here.
Sometimes that’s all we need to pass some time, you know? Oh, and watch this movie if you haven’t already.