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.