Not Fade Away
Under the influence of the Beatles-and-Stones-led British Invasion, four suburban New Jersey teenagers decide to start a band. Writer-director David Chase's semi-autobiographical movie skims the 1960s like a flat stone over water—Kennedy (skip!), King (skip!), Vietnam (skip!)—with an air of studious authenticity. Trouble is, he tells us right off that the band is a gaggle of third-rate schlubs, then goes on to prove it: Their music is unoriginal and so are their personalities, and the low-watt cast of relative newcomers (John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill) fails to make them interesting. Meanwhile, seasoned pros like Christopher McDonald, Rebecca Luker and Brad Garrett are shunted off into thankless cameos; only James Gandolfini as Magaro's flinty Archie Bunker-ish father manages to strike a few sparks.