Movie references are a fun part of pop culture. We love to find easter eggs in scenes that call back to other movies. Pixar especially is known for their sly inclusion of Buzz Lightyear or Nemo toys in the background. Then sometimes movies will recreate entire scenes to pay homage to iconic moments in other films. In the new Disney film Clouds, we see a great example of how a call back to another film can really add to a new scene.
Clouds tells the true story of Zach Sobiech, a Minnesota teen who receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. Zach is also an aspiring musician, and he decides before he dies, he’d like to write an album along with his best friend and singer-songwriter Sammy. The two post their songs on YouTube and receive a tremendous amount of support, leading to a recording deal with BMI. Zach and Sammy record their song “Clouds,” which blows up into a huge hit.
An eye-catching scene in Clouds features Zach’s mother Laura stopping to mail a letter when a friend calls her to let her know “Clouds” is playing on the radio. The exuberant Laura runs down the street, accosting Sammy coming out of a nearby shop. And then to a café where Zach is playing cards with his sister Grace and his father, Rob. Laura and Sammy burst into the shop to deliver the exciting news. And after the baristas turn on the radio, the ecstatic group dances around to the uplifting song.
Anyone who follows the work of Tom Hanks might think this looks familiar. There are striking similarities to a scene in a movie written and directed by Mr. Hanks titled That Thing You Do! The story follows the story of a one-hit-wonder pop band. Notably, Zach’s father Rob is played by actor Tom Everett Scott, the lead actor of That Thing You Do!
In the movie, Scott’s character Guy is the drummer for the band The Wonders. Guy is responsible for their new, snazzy sound for their single “That Thing You Do.” Along with other band members Jimmy, Lenny, and T.B., Guy manages to make “That Thing You Do” a hit. A scene unfolds with Faye, Jimmy’s girlfriend, hearing their song blasting on the airwaves. She runs to deliver the news to the band at Guy’s father’s appliance store.
The two scenes are remarkably similar: both have a messenger, Laura and Faye, run screaming down the street, overjoyed with the discovery. In each film, the characters turn on the radio to hear their songs coming in loud and clear and turn to each other to hug, dance, and celebrate. Though the level of celebration in That Thing You Do! is off the charts compared to the rather demure spectacle in Clouds.
The recreation of the scene in That Thing You Do! is an entertaining way to use a great scene in a new project. It’s also heartwarming to see Tom Everett Scott relive a moment of his film history. The scene itself sticks with you as the characters reach an intoxicating level of happiness that you can’t help but smile watching them. The way the scene plays out allows us to feel just how thrilling and important it is for the character’s songs to be recognized and enjoyed.