“Not Fade Away” is founded on two principles: The ’60s were the most totally radical time ever, and smoking cigarettes looks really, really cool. Unfortunately, this film proves that nostalgia and nicotine just aren’t quite enough to carry a film out of the depths of mediocrity.

Not Fade Away

D
At Quality 16 and Rave
Paramount Vintage


Set in suburban New Jersey, the story follows Doug (John Magaro, “The Box”) as he comes of age during that magical time known as the ’60s (Your parents may know this as the time when they were doing all the things that they tell you not to do). Like many youths of the time, the music of the British Invasion rocks Doug’s world. Inspired, Doug becomes the drummer of his own band, which sends him on a path that leads to love, long hair, drugs, lost love, youthful angst, moving to California and, of course, lots and lots of cigarettes.

The filmmakers seem to have been more interested in incorporating every aspect of their beloved childhood era than actually making a good movie. Imagine all the most famous aspects of the ’60s — the evolution of rock music, the sexual revolution, excessive drug use, the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement — “Not Fade Away” goes out of its way to touch on each of these and more. Because the film is so eager to weave all of these themes into its story, it’s unable to successfully convey any kind of significant message about a single one of them. This — along with a poorly written script — causes the story to get lost in its own cocktail of ’60s youth culture, leaving viewers wondering just what the point of the movie is.

The script introduces seemingly a hundred different subplots that are never resolved and, in some cases, are never even mentioned again. In one scene, Doug’s father (James Gandolfini, TV’s “The Sopranos”) breaks the news to his wife (Molly Price, “How Do You Know”) that he has cancer. This devastating news is barely mentioned for the rest of the movie. The passing of time is murky and confusing, character motives are unclear and while the main characters aren’t annoying enough to make you root against them, they certainly aren’t compelling or likeable enough to make you care about whether they succeed in their endeavors.

“Not Fade Away” simply cuts too many corners to be a good movie. It relies too heavily on the “how cool were the ’60s?” attitude that it’s counting on viewers to have, along with the appeal of a solid soundtrack (featuring, of course, plenty of Rolling Stones). David Chase, who gave the world one of the best TV shows of all time in “The Sopranos,” is not able to duplicate his success in his silver screen debut, despite reuniting with the ever-badass Gandolfini. He’s also up to his old tricks again as far as disappointing endings are concerned. (How can anyone forget the cut-to-black that provided “The Sopranos” with the most anticlimactic ending in television history?)

So don’t let the title fool you: If you’re planning on seeing this film, you’re going to want to get the theater quickly because “Not Fade Away” will be fading away very soon.

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