Review: Not Fade Away


Director:David Chase

Cast:John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Brahm Vaccarella, Gregory Perri, Bella Heathcote

Running Time:112.00


If anything of consequence happened in Not Fade Away, I must have
missed it. Despite boasting a great soundtrack, it's hard to recall any
memorable scenes or lasting moments from this rambling ode to the music of the
'60s. It's slice-of-life, but not an interesting one.

John Magaro leads the cast of relative newcomers as Doug, a nerdy kid
who's passable at best at drums and starts a band with his buddies. While the
lead singer (Jack Huston) is content to play covers in frigid basements, Doug
yearns to pen some original tunes and ditch his small New Jersey existence. It
would be easy to draw some Springsteen parallels if this kid occasionally
possessed some wit or enthusiasm, but he's only slightly more talented than his

All he really wants to do is hang out with his girlfriend (Bella
Heathcote), the one who was out of his league in high school. He also wants his
dad off his back. Pops is played by James Gandolfini, who looks one chicken
parm away from exploding like John Cleese in Meaning of Life. He constantly
uses racial slurs and rags on his son's appearance. A later scene at a
restaurant eventually shows some depth, but by then it's too late. At no point
did I really care what happened to any of these characters.

It's best to think of this as a depressing version of That Thing You
Do, except there's no Tom Hanks, or anyone with much of a personality beyond being
a self-absorbed jerk.

Relationships ebb and flow throughout the movie as jealousy eats at
everyone and self-centeredness leaves many characters adrift. It all ends with
a scene so nutty, it comes out of nowhere. It would have pissed me off were it
not the most interesting thing to happen since the picture started.

Writer-director David Chase may have ignited a TV revolution with 'The
Sopranos,' but his feature debut is so dull, it couldn't light up a cigarette. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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