Saturday, June 23, 2007

That Thing You Do

I owe some very nice people ... something. I don't really do reviews on this site.

I received an email asking if I wanted a free copy of THAT THING YOU DO. There were no strings attached. Just watch it. Write something about it if I felt like it.

How can I say no to free stuff?

Since this is a re-release and much of the draw to this DVD is the new EXTRAS and the extended cut I figured I'd go through all the content before posting. And that's where I found items that are actually applicable to this blog.

To screenwriting.

To filmmaking.

To collaboration at its best.

I have to warn you... The Extended Cut is pretty boring. (Luckily, the DVD provides BOTH the original theatrical cut, as well as the extended cut). It is long with scenes that really do not touch on anything other than giving minor character motivation and backstory (through dialogue). They are not bad scenes. They simply do not push the story forward, and thus, do not belong in the film.

How could you say this? These people gave you a free copy of their DVD.

Well, take a step back for a second and think about it.

That means the editor and director made GOOD choices when lopping off scenes that did not deal with the central premise of the story. In a time when extras on DVDs are expected as an additional bonus to the theatrical release, it is oftentimes easy to forget why scenes get cut out of movies in the first place.

Every "extended" cut should be WORSE than the theatrical cut. If they aren't someone didn't do their job getting the best possible cut to the viewing public.

And this is where the strength of both this movie and DVD lies.

THAT THING YOU DO was Tom Hank's directorial debut.

It is a fun movie that struggled due to a lack of genre expectation. I think it succeeds in a way I haven't seen from the hordes of 'bands coming to glory and falling apart' stories previously have. These stories tend to be overly nostalgic and overly dramatic, forgetting what it is that made these bands fun in the first place and trying to transfer that feeling to the screen. To this the movie was a success.

Secondly, actors that become directors tend to focus heavily on character to character interaction and generally forget that the director's job also includes the overall tone, attention to detail, and storytelling of the film as a whole, and not just moment to moment.

This DVD illustrates something very rare.

Tom Hanks made good DIRECTORIAL decisions on this movie.

And while it received fairly luke-warm reviews, the movie is actually able to capture the feel, tone, and vibe of a Beatles-esque type band coming up around that era.

If you are a big fan of Tom Hanks, I think this DVD is a must-have. It marks his debut into directing. Illustrates that he has potential as a future director (Hopefully, he tries directing more often (especially seeing as his looks are going.)) The behind the scenes footage, as well as comparing the Extended Cut Vs. the Theatrical Cut is also a great tool at analyzing the different toolsets that are needed from one filmmaking profession to the next.


Mystery Man said...

Good review, man! I love reviews! You should do more. You get free stuff. After I wrote that post on the book, Cinematic Storytelling, I've been getting offers for free books!

But... how do I get them to mail it to me without revealing who I am? Hmm. Didn't quite think that one through.

Anyway, hope you're well.


James said...

Yes. Free stuff is good.