Tom Hanks Most Underrated Movie Isn’t Available On Streaming

That Thing You Do! is sadly not streaming anywhere.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

tom hanks
That Thing You Do! (1996)

That Thing You Do! is no longer that thing you stream. According to JustWatch, Tom Hanks’s directorial debut isn’t available to stream on any service despite its overwhelming popularity. Fans fondly remember the 1996 movie as a lighthearted look at the recording industry in the early ’60s with an absolute banger of a soundtrack.

That Thing You Do! follows the fictional band The Wonders (originally spelled “Oneders,” leading several people to mispronounce the band’s name as the Oh-needers) as they go from playing school dances to county fairs, all the way to a recording contract and live television appearance all off the success of one song.

As the band gets bigger, their group dynamic suffers, and the members start to quit one by one until The Wonders are no more. Tom Hanks manages to perfectly distill the entire music industry into a fun little romp about a bunch of one-hit wonders.

The movie was written and directed by Tom Hanks and stars Tom Everett Scott as drummer Guy, Jonathon Schaech as brooding singer Jimmy, Steve Zahn as wise-cracking Lenny, the lead guitarist, and Ethan Embry as the unnamed bass player.

Tom Everett Scott almost missed out on the role after Hanks decided the young actor looked too much like himself at that age and decided not to cast him. Luckily for Scott, Tom’s wife, Rita Wilson, thought he was cute and convinced her husband to hire him.

tom hanks

Along with the boys in the band, the movie also stars Hanks as record company exec Mr. White and Liv Tyler as Jimmy’s (and later, Guy’s) love interest Faye. Hanks’s wife, Rita Wilson, makes a brief cameo as a waitress in a jazz club. Several other big names have cameos, including singer Chris Isaac as Guy’s uncle and the person who first records The Wonders on vinyl.

The titular song “That Thing You Do!” proved to be so popular that it became a legitimate hit in real life. The song, written and composed for the film by Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger, hit #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1996.

The song has proven to be so popular it’s been covered by artists like The Knack and Greenday’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

Tom Hanks made Scott, Schaech, Zahn, and Embry take weeks of lessons in order to look convincing in scenes where The Wonders are playing music. Only Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry had any experience with their respective instruments prior to the lessons.

The boys did such a good job that they were able to convince extras on the set that it was really them playing despite the use of a backing track.

Several other period-appropriate songs had to be written for the movie, including the one that plays during the opening credits, “Lovin’ You Lots and Lots,” written by none other than Tom Hanks himself. Hanks, a man of limitless talents, it seems, also composed the drum solo played by Guy throughout the movie, “I Am Spartacus.”

tom hanks

The success of the movie’s soundtrack led to Tom Hanks launching his own label, Playtone Records, named after the fictional record label his character represents in That Thing You Do!

That Thing You Do! grossed $34.6 million worldwide off of a budget of $25.9 million, making the film a modest success. The movie was praised by critics who noted its shallow premise—the movie doesn’t offer any particularly new insight into the human condition—but felt that as a film looking solely to entertain for an hour and a half, That Thing You Do! largely succeeds.

Despite the film’s success, Tom Hanks has only directed one other film since the release of That Thing You Do!, the largely forgettable Larry Crowne. Instead, the star seems to be content just being one of the most—if not the most—beloved actors in the world.

Hanks’s IMDb page is full of classic role after classic role, in case anyone needs a reminder of just why the actor is everyone’s favorite.

All these years later, That Thing You Do! can best be remembered as the movie that launched Steve Zahn, Ethen Embry, and Live Tyler’s careers, as well as one of the last truly great PG movies that weren’t geared towards children but instead offered a nice wholesome experience for the whole family. It’s a crime that the movie isn’t streaming somewhere, and hopefully, at least one streaming service will rectify that soon.