That Thing You Do Was Almost A Totally Different Movie
If That Thing You Do was an album, the watch party commentary from the recent Wonders reunion would be the ultimate liner notes. Throughout the evening’s tribute to writer/director, and recent SNL guest host, Tom Hanks’ classic comedy, and the late Adam Schlesinger’s timeless classic of a song, there were some interesting facts that came to light, thanks to all participating. One of the things we learned is that in earlier versions of the film, things played out rather differently.
As it turns out, an entirely different first act was supposed to detail The Wonders’ rise to fame, leading up to the pivotal moment where the group hears the song on the radio for the first time at Patterson’s Appliances. During the commentary, which saw Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry and Johnathon Schaech trading stories and raising money for a good cause, special guest star and unofficial That Thing You Do historian Colin Hanks came on board and dug deep into his memories of the film’s production.
With a memory as sharp as a tack, and a message about where his father’s character from the film is today, Colin Hanks and Tom Everett Scott told the following story about where That Thing You Do’s first act went in an earlier draft:
The scene that survived the late hour culling was where The Wonders record That Thing You Do’s title track in a church, thanks to the aid of Guy’s Uncle Bob, played by recording artist/actor Chris Isaak. The simple fix that kept this scene, and allowed Tom Hanks’ script to change The Wonders’ whirlwind tour of fame to include some stops at the Mercy Hearst Talent Show and Villapiano’s Italian Restaurant, was that Uncle Bob was a producer of church music.
So instead of Liv Tyler’s Faye bonding with Tom Everett Scott’s Guy at said church camp, the eventual lovers of That Thing You Do’s surprise romance would meet at the diner, on that first day Guy chatted up the then fledgling band. However, that’s not the end to the huge changes that the film would see.
Another interesting tidbit of That Thing You Do trivia came towards the end of the watch party commentary, and it naturally covered the original coda to the film’s story about one-hit Wonders. According to Colin Hanks’ veritable encyclopedia of film knowledge, we were originally going to see bellhop/jazz aficionado Lamarr (Obba Babatundé) end the film very differently:
The ending that That Thing You Do would eventually land on was a series of photos detailing where each member of the group wound up in their futures. Though if you were wondering where Mr. Amos White landed in his life, he’s retired with his boyfriend Floyd (played in an extended cut scene by Howie Long).
While there were a lot of aspects that Tom Hanks’ director’s cut of That Thing You Do actually drew in better context, the original ending is one of those deleted moments that still hasn’t seen the light of day. It would be interesting to see how The Wonders’ lives were originally supposed to play out, with Obba Babatundé’s Lamarr breaking that fourth wall barrier to inform us.
Perhaps next year’s 25th anniversary will provide the opportunity to give the world another re-release of That Thing You Do, be it as a theatrical event or a new home video restoration. But for now, the fact that such new and exciting details have come to light have given the world more insight into how That Thing You Do could have been an extremely different movie. Also, Colin Hanks should consider going into business as the official historian for this particular film, because his knowledge is pretty deep.
That Thing You Do is available to stream through Cinemax and can be purchased or rented on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest updates in the movies realm.
But if you consider yourself a big tipper, there’s a first pressing of the future Mondo vinyl release of the soundtrack waiting for you to make a bid. Either way, it’s a generous gesture for a good cause, and a rockin’ classic.
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