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This episode begins with an apology. When we recently covered La La Land on Beyond The Box Set, we dismissed actor Tom Everett-Scott as ‘some faded teen TV star’, blithely assuming he was vaguely recognisable from some early 00s teen drama in the vein of Smallville or The OC. We were ignorant of his cult status as Guy ‘Shades’ Patterson in That Thing You Do! and that’s on us.
Fortunately, friend of the show Julio Olivera from The Contrarians Podcast was on hand to fill a gaping hole in our 90s movie knowledge, and he joins us this week to right some wrongs.
Released in 1996, That Thing You Do! was written and directed by actor Tom Hanks, who conceived of the idea while on the promotional trail for Forrest Gump. A good-natured musical comedy about the rise and fall of fictional sixties teen idols The Wonders, the movie is exactly the sort of sweetly nostalgic fare you’d expect from America’s most beloved leading man.
That’s no bad thing. Despite a near total lack of conflict, That Thing You Do! is a low-stakes delight, coasting by on the considerable charm of its attractive young cast – including rising stars Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn and Charlize Theron among others – and a peppy retro soundtrack that briefly crossed over into the actual charts.
The movie went to cinemas in a standard 108 minute cut, but a full 40 minutes were later added to the extended edition that we watched for the purposes of this Podcast – full disclosure, it was the only version we could find. While not exactly as expansive as, say, The Lord of The Rings trilogy, the extra time added to That Thing You Do! fleshes out the characters and even changes the context of the ending, although entry level viewers will probably prefer the less meandering original cut if they can find it. As novel as it is to watch a baby-faced Theron engaging in what may or may not be a sado-masochistic relationship with her dentist, there’s probably a reason most of her storyline ended up on the cutting room floor.
In addition to talking us through the movie – and of course the obligatory drinking games – Julio sticks around to trade sequel ideas with us, featuring a bittersweet 21st century reunion for the now-aged Wonders, and a whistle-stop history of popular music that somehow also brings in Quantum Leap, Doctor Who and Love Actually.
To find out what the H-E-Double-Toothpicks all that entails, download or stream this week’s episode using any of the links above – or by searching for Beyond The Box Set on your favourite podcasting app. If you like the show please hit subscribe for a new episode every Friday morning, and leave us a nice review if you really want to brighten up our day (and help us to grow our audience).
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Join us next week, when we’ll be celebrating 60 episodes of the show by attempting to pitch sequels to a genuine Great American Classic. Will there be rabbits? You’ll just have to tune in to find out…