That Thing You Do

Autobahn in The Big Lebowski

You wouldn’t be able to see them in concert. You couldn’t necessarily find an old favorite of theirs on vinyl or hear their new single on the radio, or download their latest EP as a new discovery. But for the fictional bands of cinema, their music still matters in a deep, powerful way. With the announcement that one of the most famous fictional bands of all time, Jem and the Holograms, is getting the movie adaptation treatment, it’s about time to look at the other fake bands that stepped onto the silver screen before them. Their existence may not be true, but their music is.

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Almost Famous - Stillwater

In the wake of the untimely passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, we here at FSR were asked to think of our favorite Hoffman performance. I immediately thought of his portrayal of rock journalist Lester Bangs in Almost Famous which got me thinking about the band Stillwater which William (Patrick Fugit) ends up following on tour. Stillwater is a fictional band created for Almost Famous, but they feel like anything but fiction, instead coming across as a real band just starting to climb the charts, easily existing alongside The Who and Black Sabbath (the band they opened for in the film). So what was it about Stillwater that made them feel like a real life band and not one simply created to help drive the story?

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Missing in the Mansion Hatbox Ghost

Films have been shot at Disney theme parks since before Disneyland even opened in 1955. The year before, Walt Disney personally offered a sneak peek of what was to come in the pilot episode of Disneyland. And specials made for TV and souvenir videos continued from there, whether it was to show the attraction on its opening day or offer virtual tours of the park or introduce new additions or to celebrate some anniversary or another. The same goes for Walt Disney World following its opening 16 years later. Once in a while, though, something makes its way out of the parks that’s not made by Disney. Even then, it might be with permission, as in the 1962 Universal release 40 Pounds of Trouble, which features an extensive chase sequence through Disneyland (watch Tony Curtis and some Keystone-esque cops run around Main Street here). And the Matterhorn scene in That Thing You Do (directed by the guy who would later portray Disney). But there’s also Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow, a movie that shocked audiences at Sundance this year with its unauthorized guerrilla shoot at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Escape is hardly the first movie to get away with secretly capturing material on location at Disneyland, however. And now that it’s out in theaters and on VOD, this is a good time to highlight three such clandestine pieces of cinema.

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discs john dies

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. John Dies at the End David and John are college dropouts with no direction in their lives, but thanks to some very special soy sauce (that isn’t really soy sauce) they’re also the only ones standing between our world and the monstrous denizens of another dimension. You don’t need to know any more plot synopsis than that. (Especially since you already know how it ends…) The only bad thing about this release is the cover art. Director Don Coscarelli has always had a comedic side, but it’s only over his last few films that he’s really brought it to the forefront of his work. His latest finds the sweet spot that manages to be both very funny and incredibly creative on the horror side. Seriously, there is some crazy stuff here. Rush out and buy this one so Coscarelli can get moving on adapting David Wong’s sequel, “This Book Is Full Of Spiders.” Granted, he’ll probably have to change the title. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, making of, featurettes]

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That Thing You Do! is the kind of movie only a man with a particular amount of clout can get made. An off-beat comedy about a fake rock band from the ’60s starring a bunch of unknowns and unfamiliar songs to boot? Maybe if it was a comic book first. But thank the powers that be for Tom Hanks and his odd sensibilities. He may be a two-time Oscar winner and an impassioned producer of WWII serialized dramas, but when it came to his directorial debut, the end product was something closer to his Bosom Buddies/The Man with One Red Shoe days. When That Thing You Do! hit theaters it bombed, barely making back its budget and putting Hanks’s directing career in question. Not even Tom Freakin’ Hanks could get his passion project to play with audiences. That very well could have been the end of the actor behind the camera. But lo and behold, a decade and a half later, Hanks returns this weekend with another oddball flick, Larry Crowne. Whether the new comedy (sporting plenty of familiar faces) can counter-program Transformers 3 and survive the competitive summer isn’t the point — we should be happy enough he made something. With Larry Crowne, Hanks has succeeded in doing what so few of his actor-turned-director friends have managed: to make a second movie. Here are a few thespians who took the plunge into filmmaking, only to return to their day jobs after one outing.

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That Thing You Do

It’s 1964 in a Pennsylvania town. The Beatles and the rest of the British invasion have taken over the pop radio waves and encouraged a lot of small rock bands to dream big. One such band is the Oneders (pronounced Wonders, but commonly as O’Needers). When drummer Guy “Skitch” Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) joins the band with Jimmy (Jonathon Schaech), Lenny (Steve Zahn), the Bass Player (Ethan Embry) and Jimmy’s doting girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) they inadvertently turn one of Jimmy’s slow ballads into a fast-paced pop song, and before they know it are touring the country with a hit song.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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