“Not Fade Away” has a fantastic soundtrack and is a nice walk down memory lane for some. BUT does that justify an $11 movie ticket? Probably not.
Written and directed by the “Soprano’s” David Chase, this semi-autobiographical film, set at the beginning of the musical British Invasion, is about New Jersey teen Doug (John Magaro)who wants to earn his living as a rock and roller against the wishes of his Italian-American father, Pat (James Gandolfini). Original, isn’t it?
For all we know this story might go back as far as Adam and/or Cain and Abel. But for sure this movie musical does go back to at least 1927 with one of movie's earliest talkies," The Jazz Singer," which is the story of a son who pursues a career in show business over the objections of his Jewish cantor father. It’s not new and, frankly, it’s not better told. Even the movie’s romance between the not so popular Doug and the “in” girl, Grace Dietz (Bella Heathcote), is something we saw with television's "Gossip Girl’s" Dan and Serena for six seasons.
Even though “Not Fade Away’s” story is as old as dirt, that takes nothing away from the acting and the music---they are both terrific. James Gandolfini is very creditable as the strict, old-fashioned father. In fact, the scenes that he plays quietly are the most authentic and most heartfelt of the film. John Magaro is also very good and has an excellent voice. My first reaction, upon hearing him sing at “Not Fade Away’s” beginning was, “Why isn’t he singing lead?” And Bella Heathcote (a dead-ringer for “Gilmore Girl’s” Alexis Bledel ) is fine portraying the object of Doug’s affections during a time of changing moirés for women.
But the true saving grace of “Not Fade Away” is the soundtrack. Under the music supervision of Steve Van Zandt, “Not Fade Away” has compiled the best rock music of the ‘60s. It’s enough to make you want to go out and start your own garage band or, at the very least, download the early Beatles and Rolling Stones.