Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21

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Critic Reviews

  1. That Thing You Do! is neither overly sentimental nor overly cynical. It looks at the invention of our pop-rock mythology, and the bands that fed it until they were consumed by it, just as you'd expect Tom Hanks to: with open eyes (and a raised eyebrow).
  2. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    90
    Good-humored and just about reeking of innocence, That Thing You Do! is what a character has in mind when he asks for "something happy, peppy, up-tempo." Leaving audiences feeling good is very much, and very successfully, on its mind. [04 Oct 1996, Pg.F1]
  3. Mr. Hanks's debut feature, written and directed with delightful good cheer, is rock-and-roll nostalgia presented as pure fizz.
  4. It doesn't overreach, doesn't cannibalize some obvious predecessors and doesn't try to drown its story about innocent music of the early '60s in the troubled waters of music in the '90s.
  5. Though Hanks keeps the satirical and critical aspects of this look at show biz fairly light, there's a lot of conviction and savvy behind the steadiness of his gaze, and his economy in evoking the flavor of the period at the beginning of the picture is priceless.
  6. Reviewed by: Mark Salisbury
    80
    This is a lightweight but utterly loveable affair which proves Hanks is as assured behind the camera as in front of it.
  7. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    80
    A top-notch production, exuberant period music and Hanks the actor in an important role cunningly disguise a rather slight and inconsequential narrative.
  8. In his first effort at directing a feature film, Hanks chooses his material wisely and writes it with witty, beguiling charm.
  9. 75
    The movie may be inconsequential, but in some ways that's a strength. Without hauling in a lot of deep meanings, it remembers with great warmth a time and a place.
  10. 75
    Hanks works like a sketch artist feeling his way before attempting a large canvas. His material is slight, but his writing and directing have an unforced humor and an unhurried grace that suggest he may be a natural.
  11. The picture... is well- made and entertaining, but it holds a special interest in what it says about Hanks.
  12. It's as sunny as you would expect a Hanks project to be.
  13. Tom Hanks makes his directorial debut with this likable comedy, which shows that while pop culture is a business like any other, enthusiasm and high spirits can lead to satisfaction even if major success proves elusive.
  14. It's so bright (even when it means to be serious) and bubbly that it seems mean to point out that it isn't really about anything -- except how cool sharkskin suits and Capri pants are.
  15. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    Thing's opening hour is fast-paced, though not fast enough to obscure the reality that "American Graffiti" and "Diner" had sharper writing and certainly more psychological depth. [04 Oct 1996, Pg.01.D]
  16. First-time writer/director Tom Hanks stays about a half-beat ahead of the cliches with rim shots of boyish enthusiasm and deft comedy.
  17. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    This movie is so unself-consciously wholesome it's almost Gumpian.
  18. 63
    Although Hanks' film starts out strong, it finishes on shaky ground... A serio-comedy/fantasy whose light dramatic arc can't support the awkward and unnecessarily melodramatic ending.
  19. 60
    Hanks nicely lampoons the smug, stagnant, assembly-line attitude of the American pop-music establishment of the time, but it's clear that Hanks intends his Boomer-pleasing nostalgia to be strictly of the declawed variety.
  20. 40
    That Thing You Do threatens the shameless stereotypes it constructs with cats' claws, but when the deserving targets present themselves at their most vulnerable, the movie rolls over and expects audiences to stroke its tummy.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    30
    There's evocative atmosphere in the period detail and perky faux-'60s tunes. A pity these are wasted in a movie that, like many a pop tune, has a cute idea but a simpleminded lyric.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Sep 22, 2013
    10
    Very few movies feel classic to me and merit multiple watches. The Tom Hanks-directed That Thing You Do! hits the perfect chord and rings outVery few movies feel classic to me and merit multiple watches. The Tom Hanks-directed That Thing You Do! hits the perfect chord and rings out better than perhaps any other music-inspired film at least on the lighter side of life. Look everywhere and you'll be pleased with every performance, every nuance, and the cleverly crafted subliminal message that record labels have a heavy grip on the music industry and where it has been the last several decades. The only thing that makes a music-inspired move better is the music, and That Thing You Do! has some of the catchiest, most fun numbers to back an already complete film. It's one of my favorites of all time, and certainly a bright spot of the 1990's for film. Full Review »
  2. Aug 5, 2015
    10
    An all-time favorite. I love this movie. Tom Hanks directs, writes and stars in this hilarious Comedy/Drama about a one-hit wonder band in theAn all-time favorite. I love this movie. Tom Hanks directs, writes and stars in this hilarious Comedy/Drama about a one-hit wonder band in the 1960s. Everything really seems like you are really in the 60s. Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler, and Johnathon Schaech are perfect as well. An all-around perfect movie and one that merits a watch. Full Review »