A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that aside from a few curse words and some drinking, this film offers little that would offend parents. The band's manager gives them beers in the afternoon, and Guy gets drunk at a jazz bar, but pays for it the next day with a hangover. Jimmy humiliates his girlfriend in front of everyone.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In 1964, Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) works at his father's appliance store until a freak accident sidelines a local quartet's drummer. Then, Guy's secret passion for jazz and percussion blooms and he turns the dull ballad "That Thing You Do!" into a pop hit. He and the other guys in the One-ders (mispronounced by everyone as the "Oh-nee-ders") get a manager, change the spelling of the band's name, cut a single, and suddenly find themselves touring state fairs, playing on a television show, and acting in a movie. They have it all, but can they keep it together to cut another album, or will they go from being the Wonders to just another one-hit wonder?
Is it any good?
THAT THING YOU DO! is as sweet and chaste as the eponymous song. In fact, it's so agreeable, it's positively boring for anyone who's ever seen any episodes of VH1's Behind the Music. That's not to say that younger viewers and those just discovering the music of the 1960s won't enjoy the film.
What's remarkable about That Thing You Do! is that this unremarkable remake of the Beatles story is what writer and director Tom Hanks chose to do with the political capital he amassed in blockbusters like Apollo 13 and Forrest Gump. It's an oddly wholesome and lackluster choice. What we see here is a grown-up living his fantasy of being part of the Fab Four. Still, because of its sweet and chaste bent, the PG-rated film is perfect for tweens and younger teens who haven't yet been drawn into more risqué viewing choices.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how family members resolve conflicts within their prospective groups. Do you believe that "you can't keep a band (or a group of friends) together," as one of the characters says? How would you handle having a crush on one of your friend's girlfriends? You can also talk about your favorite one-hit wonders.
- In theaters: December 19, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: June 5, 2001
- Cast: Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn, Tom Hanks
- Director: Tom Hanks
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some language
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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