A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Not Fade Away is an evocative but slow-moving coming-of-age movie from David Chase (creator of The Sopranos) about a young man growing up in the 1960s who tries to find himself through music. The soundtrack is great, and the story may appeal to older teens. Expect some swearing (including "f--k" and more), plus loads of period-accurate smoking (both cigarettes and pot) and drinking at parties -- all by teens. There's also a brief, intense scene depicting a couple having sex, though there's no complete nudity.
What's the story?
It's the 1960s, and Douglas (John Magaro), a high school senior on the verge of graduating, instead decides to join a cover band as its drummer -- a "why not?" decision that turns into an avocation. He catches the eye of Grace (Bella Heathcote), a gorgeous, Vassar-bound classmate with a penchant for making out with everyone else but him and sharing her keen observations about the band -- including that he Douglas is much better at singing than the charismatic lead, Eugene (Jack Huston). Set against an emergent music scene, NOT FADE AWAY traces Douglas' circuitous journey, charting the detours he takes when he thinks he's on the way to rock-star-hood.
Is it any good?
First things first: The Not Fade Away soundtrack is as good as it gets, with the Rolling Stones, Leadbelly, and James Brown (and plenty others) permeating through the movie. In fact, it's the best thing about the movie.
David Chase (of The Sopranos fame) clearly made this film with love, perfectly evoking a very specific slice of history -- and the ennui and hope and idealism of young adulthood. Nonetheless, it ambles at a maddeningly slow pace, never quite finding the urgency to pull an audience through its hefty run time. The music's fun to listen to, but we need more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Not Fade Away depicts teen life in the 1960s. Is it relatable? Do the characters face similar issues to what teens deal with today?
Why does Douglas seem hostile to his parents (and vice versa)? Does this generational chasm still exist today, or was it played up for cinematic effect?
How does Not Fade Away compare to other coming-of-age films? How does it depict drinking and smoking? Does it glamorize them?
What does music mean to Douglas, and how does the changing musical landscape reflect the times?
- In theaters: December 21, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: April 30, 2013
- Cast: Jack Huston, James Gandolfini, John Magaro
- Director: David Chase
- Studio: Paramount Vantage
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, High school, History, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, some drug use and sexual content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.