Movie review: ‘Not Fade Away’ sets the beat for swinging ’60s
Published: January 4, 2013 07:24AM
Updated: January 3, 2013 03:08PM
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Barry Wetcher | Paramount Vantage John Magaro (left) and Bella Heathcote play young lovers in the rock 'n' roll drama "Not Fade Away."

David Chase, the creator of “The Sopranos,” perfectly sets the mood for a generation in his movie debut, “Not Fade Away,” but falls short in populating that world with engaging characters.

The story centers on Douglas (John Magaro), a New Jersey kid in the 1960s with dreams of being a rock ’n’ roll star — so he forms a band with his buddies, first playing house parties and striving to get a shot at the big time. Douglas’ dreams don’t sit well with his blue-collar dad (James Gandolfini), but his musical aspirations charm Grace (Bella Heathcote), the girl he couldn’t muster the courage to talk to in high school.

Chase’s script runs through a slew of uninvolving struggling-artist clichés, as well as some forced melodrama involving Grace’s square dad (Christopher McDonald) and unbalanced sister (Dominique McElligott).

Where Chase scores is in capturing the tone of the turbulent ’60s, with exquisite period details and a nicely curated soundtrack supervised by “The Sopranos’ ” Uncle Silvio himself, rocker/actor Steve Van Zandt.

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‘Not Fade Away’

Opens today at theaters everywhere; rated R for pervasive language, some drug use and sexual content; 112 minutes.