So, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting when I decided to take a go at Not Fade Away. The blurb for the film was small, and what I thought at the time, to the point.
It’s 1964, the Rolling Stones appear on television and three best friends from the suburbs of New Jersey decide to form a rock band.
Simple, right? I thought so, too.
So with a quick shrug and the small thought that hey, maybe I’ll get some Mick Jagger out of this, I got my tickets and headed out.
Little did I think what could be a harmless two-hour experience of hearing “(I Can’t Get No)Satisfaction” once or twice would actually turn into what felt like a lifetime of itchy seat fidgeting.
The thing about Not Fade Away is that it has possibilities. The plot is there. Rather than taking a hold of these ideas and using them for the better, the audience is given a crummy sort of sixties sex and drugs mash-up. While it may seem as though such things would slip right into the film and fit handily, they really do nothing to attribute to the situation and the main point. If there ever was one.
But there wasn’t. At all.
That itsy, bitsy blurb you read up there? Deceptive, oh, so very deceptive.
Now, what a normal movie-goer might take away from that extremely small synopsis is that three kids somewhere in the middle of New Jersey are going to get a hold on a few decent working instruments and try to make it big time. For the most part, there is gig playing, and it works out for the boys, but at the end of it all they really haven’t grown anywhere from the beginning of the movie, which relatively takes place over a year and a half or so in sum. No one matures, no one goes anywhere, the band doesn’t make it big time. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.
At the end of NFA, our main character, Douglas, only comes away with a girlfriend who leaves him at a party with no ride home. On purpose? By accident? We don’t exactly know. Some sort of cheating endeavor is predicted, though. Lest I include that we never know if Douglas finds his way home, because the camera drops him off just as he’s making his way around California sometime after midnight only for his little sister to pop onto the screen, to drop the bomb that she’s actually been writing a term paper on how her brother made a band.
Now, I am completely aware that the run-on sentence I conducted up there makes absolutely no sense, and that is just a small part of my point. I’m not exactly sure what I was watching, and stepping out of the film with a dazed look on my face, I realized I wasn’t alone.
While Not Fade Away was a mess and entirely irrelevant in itself, there were a few things now and then that kept me from getting up and leaving the theater halfway into the movie. Music? You’ll get it. An alright Rolling Stones cover here and there, a clip of Mick Jagger on The Ed Sullivan Show? Check and check.
Either enough to keep the girl sitting next to me from taking a half hour nap? Not nearly. I am, of course, being nice, though.
She was actually asleep well over an hour. And, if I may add, when she was awake, her sighs and “Is this almost over?”‘s could be heard all throughout the theater. Said girl might actually be my best friend, but I’m convinced this fact isn’t relevant.
Not Fade Away was, as noted, made by the creators of The Sopranos, and I’ve seen enough of the show walking in and out of the living room as my dad watches episode after episode to guess it isn’t half bad. Even James Gandolfini plays the role of Douglas’s father, and I am decent enough to give him credit on the part. He did a phenomenal job, as always, but that doesn’t exactly say much for the other actors, including Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows) and Royce King (Spartacus; Twilight: Eclipse). Maybe their roles were a bit far fetched in my mind, but I couldn’t, for whatever reason, wrap my mind around either of them in the movie. I had no idea any of these three would be in the film when I decided to watch it, and when I saw each of them pop up on screen I couldn’t help feeling a bit giddy, all to only be let down too quickly.
So, all in all, if you get a girl who makes jewelry out of artificial lemon juice cases, a guy who can manage a motorcycle accident that has more to do with a mailbox and a football than it does a car, a dad with some kind of chronic illness, a few dudes who might actually be able to play instruments but don’t have the ability to sing(though they don’t know it), a questionably suicidal mother, some sex and lots of other irrelevant things, you might just end up with what Not Fade Away is.
Rating: ★★★ ★(4/10 stars)