If you start a band in a movie, the following things will happen: You’ll have to replace someone early on. You’ll practice cover songs in someone’s parents’ basement or garage. Then you’ll play parties or win a talent contest. Cut to hearing your song on the radio for the first time, cut to tour, cut to drugs, cut to Yoko stand-in, cut to reunion tour.
The fictional band in “Not Fade Away,” opening Friday, doesn’t follow the typical cinematic trajectory. There are cover songs and basements and a lot of talk about making it big, but the group’s members (led by John Magaro’s Douglas) spend most of their time spinning their wheels in their New Jersey suburb.
The band seems to think that since they’re pretty good and they really like the Rolling Stones, a Fairy Godagent will show up and shower them with riches. When Douglas, the most motivated of the group (and that’s not saying much), actually takes steps to move his career forward, he doesn’t take big steps, so he doesn’t even fail spectacularly when his attempts don’t work out.
Everything about the movie is small: Though the band members want fame and fortune, they don’t seem to want it that badly. “Not Fade Away” is, essentially, a study about what happens when you don’t want anything in particular, and you’re not willing to do much to get it.