That Thing You Do!

It has a good beat, and you can dance to it.

Tom Hank’s directorial debut is a blast of pure fun, even in its more-serious moments, boppin’ along as small-town teens hit the big time.

The “Oneders” aren’t built for the long run, but they pack a sweet, fizzy high as they ride a brief wave of popularity based around a hit song they’re unlikely to ever duplicate.

Fame is a fickle mistress, and if the lads eventually go their own way, there’s always hope.

This is the 25th anniversary of the film – perfect time to stage a reunion tour.

 

Road to Perdition

He’s the best at what he does.

Too bad what he does is pretty nasty work.

Selling (most of) his soul, Tom Hank sinks low as a Depression-era Mob hitman in one of the prettiest-looking flicks you’ll find.

Shot by the great Conrad L. Hall, who justifiably won a posthumous Oscar, the film is a masterpiece of shadows and rain.

Its story, based on a Max Allan Collins graphic novel, is stuffed full of betrayal, vengeance, and just a hint of hard-earned redemption.

Keep your finger on the trigger, your conscience locked away, and your head on a swivel.

 

A League of Their Own

Tears are taboo on the diamond.

A rollicking grand slam, this fictionalized look at real-life women who helped keep professional baseball going in America during World War II is as fresh today as when it hit theaters in ’92.

Tom Hanks gives one of his best performances, rumpled and sarcastic, a faded star who finds, to his abiding horror, that he actually still cares.

Geena Davis, among the most-athletic of actresses (check out Cutthroat Island for more proof), is the true star, but don’t sleep on Lori Petty as her rambunctious lil’ sis.

This lineup is loaded with Hall of Famers.

 

Saving Private Ryan

The greatest robbery in Oscar history.

If you think Shakespeare in Love deserved to beat Steven Spielberg’s ode to the men who fought, and died, to save the world, you should probably stop watching movies.

The opening, when Tom Hanks and Co. hit the beaches during D-Day, is a monumental achievement of sound and fury, laced with quiet melancholy over what is being lost.

But, as strong as that first bow is, the rest of the film holds up its end of the deal.

From Jeremy Davies on the staircase to Hanks final stand, this is the Best Picture of 1998.

Apollo 13

Houston, there’s no problem.

This soaring true-life tale centers around a tense moment in NASA history, as a failing oxygen tank puts astronauts in danger, but Ron Howard’s film is as stirring as possible.

Nominated for nine Oscars, and winner of two, in a very-strong year which also featured Babe and Braveheart, it reached home viewers early in my video store career.

Sent out at a time when movie studios were deeply committed to wooing rental huts, it came accompanied by multiple t-shirts.

Twas a sad day when my well-worn one was finally retired to the burn pile years later.