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One of my favourite movies of all-time
segacs5 February 2005
Finally, a movie worth the full price of a ticket! Almost Famous is Cameron Crowe's semi-autobigraphical story of an aspiring rock journalist who goes on tour with a band in the 1970's. If it sounds familiar, it's probably because the story is hardly new. There have been dozens of movies made about the rock and roll lifestyle: the drugs, the sex, the fights, and all the bumps on the road to success.

So what sets Almost Famous apart? The acting, for one. Frances McDormand was brilliant as William's (newcomer Patrick Fugit) well-meaning but overbearing mother. Fugit, for his part, had a convincing performance as the shy, awkward teenager struggling to be a journalist but at the same time aching to belong. Kate Hudson, in her breakout role as groupie "Penny Lane", gave her character depth beyond what might have been a limiting role. And Billy Crudup, as band Stillwater's charismatic lead guitarist, shines. Jason Lee is always good, and as Stillwater's lead singer, this role is no exception. And I can't review this film without giving a shout-out to the chronically and criminally-underrated Philip Seymour Hoffman, who steals every scene he's in with his portrayal of legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs.

The writing in the film also contributes to its effect. Many of the great lines belong to McDormand but there are plenty of others to go around. In addition, the music of the era can't be beat. Everything from Simon and Garfunkle to Alvin and the Chipmunks shows up at some point in the movie's extensive musical score.

The plot may not be particularly original, but it rings true. I of course am approaching this review as a music fan and someone interested in the industry. Nonetheless, I believe that even people who couldn't care less about rock music will enjoy this movie, since it's not so much about the music as it is about life. A central theme is the conflict of William: Should he remain a detached but lonely outsider so as to be an impartial journalist, or allow himself to make friends with these people and feel like he belongs? Aside from bringing up questions of journalistic ethics, this dilemma mirrors much of what people in all wakes of life deal with daily.

Almost Famous is realistic, funny, touching, and one of those rare movies that makes you feel like you've gained something just for having seen it. It's too bad that they say rock and roll is dead, cause we could sure use more movies like this one!
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Crowe knows what it is love some little piece of music so much that it hurts
SKG-25 October 2000
Warning: Spoilers
There's a (by now) well-known scene early on in ALMOST FAMOUS when William Miller is poring through the records his older sister Anita has left behind for him since she ran off from home. Inside the album cover of The Who's TOMMY, she leaves William a note, telling him to listen to this with a candle lit, and he'll be able to see his future. He puts on the record, "Sparks" comes on, and the look on his face as he listens is the look every rock fan will recognize.

There's been tons of stuff written about rock-n-roll music, from those who think, like William's mother Elaine, that it's a corrupting influence(or those who go even farther and consider it "the devil's music"), to those who insist the music is meaningless and to take it seriously smacks of pretension, because it's "only music." And then there are people like Cameron Crowe, who recognize rock-n-roll, and the music which came in its wake, is the shared experience of many people starting from the 1950's, in the way maybe that plays and earlier types of music were in centuries before. Sure, there's television and movies as well, but rock music is shorter and more direct. And sure, it can just be fun and a way to cut loose once in a while, but it's also something which can speak to what we love, what we long for, what we're afraid of, what we think, what wounds us inside, and so much more.

Because Crowe is a fan, he's able to capture all of this in his movie. It's not just in the obvious moments, like the people on the tour bus singing along to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," which lifts them out of their black mood, or singer Jeff Bebe leading everybody into singing "On the Cover of Rolling Stone" when he learns he and his fellow bandmates will be on the cover. It's in the wild spirit of people like Sapphire, one of the Band-Aids(read: groupies) who follow the band Stillwater and others as they tour the U.S., or in the more tender spirit of someone like her sister Band-Aid Penny Lane, who believes she and the other Band-Aids serve as a muse to bands like Stillwater, and who soaks in all of her experiences like a sponge. It's also in William, who tries(like Crowe did) to balance reporting with his very obvious love for the music. And it's especially in the line I quoted from at the top, which Sapphire says to Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond late in the movie. To be sure, the road of rock-n-roll isn't all covered in roses. There's outrageous behavior(like how Russell treats Penny, or William losing his virginity to three of the groupies), drugs, excess, and yes, pretension(like when Jeff lectures Penny about the power of rock-n-roll and then adds, "And the chicks are cool, right?" But those who wanted this to be more like THIS IS SPINAL TAP are missing the point. This isn't a movie about the obvious problems and silliness in rock music. It's about what still draws people to it, and though Crowe acknowledges these people's faults, he still loves them for who they are.

Of course, there's a lot more reasons why ALMOST FAMOUS is a great movie besides its love of rock-n-roll. It's well acted across the board(in addition to all the performances mentioned several times, I'd like to highlight Fairuza Balk as Sapphire; not only does she get the best line in the movie(along with Frances McDormand's "Don't take drugs!" and "Rock stars have kidnapped my son") with that line about music(I also like what she and the other groupies yell as they're about to deflower William, "Death to Opie!"), but she also captures the carefree spirit of the time. She may not be important plot wise, but if you took her character out, the movie would be missing something), it's a terrific coming-of-age story, it's a bittersweet love story, the dialogue is great, and it looks terrific. But it's Crowe's obvious love for the music, and for the people who love it, that makes ALMOST FAMOUS the best thing I've seen so far this year.
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Heart-wrenching, honest, clever; everything I like in a film
dave-94327 September 2000
I've seen a few coming-of-age films, and a few prodigy-cum-genius type films, and of course more than my share of romantic comedy stuff. This film skirts between the lines of all those possibilities and somehow manages to find its way to the viewer intact, deftly and with a whole lot of old-fashioned charisma.

The acting was honest, true to how people behave without getting schmaltzy or over-dramatic. Cameron Crowe gets these actors to all project a belief in themselves and bring that across in a way that we care about what happens to them. I particularly liked the rendition of William Miller by Patrick Fugit, who steals the show as the precocious rock-n-roll journalist. He evokes visions of a young Matthew Broderick or a wide-eyed Michael J. Fox without ever getting corraled into being the "cute but troubled young kid".

Frances McDormand is amazing and well-cast as Elaine the Mom, someone so wrapped up in creating a safe, healthy environment she drives both her children far away from home.

Billy Crudup & Kate Hudson create the tension filled romance that drives the story along; both did a great job & were adroitly evocative of those fast times in the rock & roll fantasyland of the 70's. Billy, as Russell Hammond, teeters on the edge of fame, not wanting to leave his long-suffering bandmates behind but being courted as the band's star by the record company, is palpably torn. He carries William through the whirlwind of emotions and music along with him, showing him a world that is desperate and lonely, even with the whole world seemingly vying for his attention. His casting is also very clever, seeing as how Billy Crudup also sits on the brink of his own stardom & acclaim in real life.

Lester Bangs is William's 'guru', played to perfection by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. A walking oxymoron, he exudes a callous arrogance and at the same time expresses genuine affection for the up-and-comer, sometimes giving William the exact advice he needs to get him through the toughest moments as a rock critic & dealing with the love/hate relationships they seem to engender with everyone in their world of music.

I can't say enough about the awesome casting job, as well as the very detailed set design, costuming & realism to the times. Period pieces are usually difficult to do well; Mr. Crowe did this one genuine and good.

A truly great film, one that I'd heartily recommend to all but the most jaded rock critics.
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An Excellent Original Insight Into The 70's Rock Scene... With Dazzling Performances.
shanfloyd7 June 2003
There was a time in the US rock circuit before music videos and online marketing. That was the time when several little-known bands toured all over the country... accompanied mostly by drugs and groupies. Writer-director Cameron Crowe takes us to that infamous scene of sex, drugs and rock n' roll in the 1970's with this semi-autobiographical work, which is not only equipped with his brilliant direction and screenplay, but also by decent performances by some relatively lesser-known actors.

Here the introduction of a not-too-famous band, an imaginary one called Stillwater, was important. In that sense, Stillwater is a perfect work by Crowe... with a volatile relationship between the vocalist and the guitarist, with a noncompetent manager and everything that comes with. There were also the groupies, who became a matter of substance in Crowe's point of view. But the most extraordinary thing that Crowe did is the image of himself as a 15-year-old writing prodigy, rock journalist William Miller. The viewers watch the movie through Miller's eyes. The character is extremely well-designed and reserved by Crowe. Miller's the one who becomes able to attach all the parts into a complete movie alone.

Billy Crudup was probably the best among the actors as guitarist Russell Hammond. It's true his role was not a tough one, but he's the one who made it look so easy. Young Kate Hudson, as Penny Lane, is perfect and very adorable. She showed her potentials in this movie which seemed even better than her mother, Goldie Hawn. All she needs are decent roles in future. The other actors, namely Jason Lee as vocalist Jeff, Frances McDormand as Williams's over-protective mother and the other band-aids (with Oscar-winner Anna Paquin) performed also quite well. And newcomer Patrick Fugit, as Miller himself, is really brilliant. Gaining more screen time than anyone else, it was a tough test for Fugit and it is all praises for him.

The soundtrack was very good with some fine original songs. There may be some minor flaws in the movie, like some unnecessary sequences, but all over this is a quite masterful work... a feast for the mind and soul, both for a hard rock n' roll fan and for casual viewers.
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Believable and breathtaking view of rock'n'roll in the '70's.
Michael Carruthers6 April 2001
On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave Almost Famous a score of 95.

One of the most critically acclaimed movie experiences of the year 2000, Almost Famous is the second feature film to come out Cameron Crowe, and he beats his first effort, Jerry Maguire by a mile. Almost Famous is a stunning, thought-provoking film that comes at you directly from the eye of the camera and hits you with a hard bang. It's a movie not only for people who love 70's rock bands, but for all movie-goer's who really love the feeling of coming out of the cinema feeling totally fulfilled.

A 15 year old boy named William Miller (Patrick Fugit) gets an opportunity to travel with a rock band, Stillwater on a 1973 tour. As a younger boy, his sister (Zooey Deschanel) and his widowed mother Elaine (Frances McDormand) had fought about the mother's control over the family and her denial of rock music. The sister leaves home and leaves the young boy her record collection, which immediately seizes his attention. As a teen, he makes record reviews for an underground newspaper. He submits those to Creem magazine writer Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and gets his attention. The two become fast friends and Bangs acts as his mentor as Rolling Stone magazine comes calling. Slipping into an inner group connected with Stillwater, Rolling Stone agrees to bankroll him on a trip with the group. There he meets the "Band Aids", a group of girls that refuse to be called groupies because they are dedicated only to specific bands. "Penny Lane" (Kate Hudson), the Band Aid's leader is enamored with the group leader (Billy Crudup), but befriends the teen. He responds with complete infatuation with her, but he is equally enamored with the charismatic guitarist. While accepted by the band (other members are Jason Lee, John Fedevich and Mark Kozeleck), they nonetheless refer to him as "the enemy - a rock critic".

The film is classically cool and endlessly enjoyable, making it by far one of the top 5 movies of last year. The film boasts absolutely incredible performances, Patrick Fugit is a newcomer and has terrific potential, Frances McDormand is emotionally stunning as an over-protective mother and Billy Crudup, who I underrated at first, gives a performance of believability and power. However, it comes as no surprise that the film's acting star is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn. Hudson gives a masterful performance as Penny Lane, she pulls off all Lane's facial expressions effortlessly brilliantly, and God knows she is one of the most stunning young performers of her current time, and she gives one of the most memorably exciting performances of 2000. Cameron Crowe gets a big pat on the back too for arranging the movie delicately and with absolute dedication.

Cameron Crowe's instant classic is a hard one to beat, and is surely the closest thing we have to a perfect `rock movie' these days. Absolutely unmissable.
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"It's all happening"
jpschapira27 March 2006
"Almost famous" is so great that I don't know where to begin. It means so much to me; personally, cinematographically, visually…It means so much when it comes to acting and wonderful performances, when it comes to fantastic original screenplays that come from a person's mind without being taken from anything we already know.

This was probably one of the first movies to ever blow me away. When I was getting and idea of what cinema meant and which where the good films; this one left me impressed for more than a week. The same occurred later with "Traffic", "The Truman Show", "Big Fish" and others. It was with this film that I understood that to like a movie it has to mean something to you; besides meaning something for the ones who did it or the ones involved in it.

It meant something for me mainly because of the music. It was during the main credits written by hand in a paper that I felt something, but then, when William's (Patrick Fugit) sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) leaves the house to become a stewardess, and tells him: "Look under your bed; it will set you free"; I was introduced to a new world.

William's mother Elaine (an excellent Frances McDormand) raised him and her sister forbidding them to use bad words, making them go to school, making them religious, but most importantly not letting them listen to rock music. This all changes when William plays The Who's "Tommy" a the light of a candle. Some years later he is writing rock articles and he knows enough to talk with the best music critic in the United States: Lester Bangs (a brilliant and Oscar-caliber supporting performance by the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

They talk for a while and the critic says: "Well, I've got to go; I can't spend my whole day talking to my fans". But then, with a lot of intelligence, a camera shoots a restaurant, and they are both still talking. Bangs gives the kid an assignment: to write about Deep Purple. The kid goes to the concert in his home town and tries to enter backstage saying he's a reporter of "Creem".

His multiple attempts fail and he is called by some girls who are laughing constantly. These are the Band Aids, and that is the moment in the film during which I fell in love with Kate Hudson. She plays Penny Lane (although that's not her real name), the girl who said women should be with musicians just for the love of the music, not sex or free rides.

She plays her as an enigmatic and mysterious person who actually is lost and doesn't know or have another place to be in. And I'm talking, personally, about one of the best performances I've witnessed in my whole life. This personal list of best performances is short, and Hudson's Penny Lane is in it, and she deserved an Oscar for it; and many will agree.

Because of how life goes, William stays alone outside…Until Stillwater arrives, the kid uses his musical knowledge and he is inside backstage before he knows it. Then, before we know, he forgets about Deep Purple, he is touring with Stillwater and writing an article for Rolling Stone magazine that could be considered for the cover; and William is only 15 years old.

During the tour I felt what they called the "buzz". It was very inspiring to watch the band, each of its members, all the time with a guitar in their hands. Sometimes they were playing together; sometimes each of them was doing his own things. There were pianos and keyboards in each room they stepped foot in; there were good and bad live moments, just as good offstage moments and horrible fights; probably mended with just singing "Tiny Dancer".

Music is the main factor, as this band travels through the country. All of the members of the band we get to identify, but the one that obligatorily highlights is the guitarist Russell Hammond, played superbly by Billy Crudup. The lead singer is also important and he is played by a long-haired Jason Lee, with the guts of a rock persona.

The regretful moments we can't be without...Like Russell's party in Topeka and his last lines if he would die: "I'm on drugs"; or the plain about to crash and confessions like: "I'm gay". This was all perfectly crafted by the hand of Cameron Crowe's peaceful camera and the fantastic screenplay he wrote going back in time to his own similar experience. The man got the best from Tom Cruise, that's already a lot: and "Almost Famous" is his legacy; a gem and one of the best films I've seen in my life.
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Great the Director's Cut DVD!
Jockey126 December 2003
There are two things that make this film one of the best made in the last few years- characters and music. I am personally not a big fan of 70s music, but it is used very well in this film, most of my favourite scenes are made all the more memorable by the music, which includes America (Simon & Garfunkel), Tiny Dancer, Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters (both Elton John), River (Joni Mitchell) Paranoid (Black Sabbath) and Feel Flows (The Beach Boys) Most of the actors and actresses in this film give the performance of their lives, Frances McDormand being especially comical as William's mother, and many of the best moments are all hers. William himself has an endearing quality about him to the audience, and I'm surprised I haven't seen Patrick Fugit in any other films since this one. A great film, and the Directors Cut DVD is well worth the money, especially for those of you (like me) who had previously only watched the UK version.
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Wonderfuly captured piece of time that breaks the age barrier and pulls all generations in
Kaksmack23 September 2000
As I exited the movie theater after viewing Cameron Crows latest adventure, I was struggling with what to say to my date. As I didnt want to just sit there and say nothing, I was forced to due to so many feelings and thoughts about Almost Famous. Luckily, she felt the same way and so for a few moments we just sat there, staring off into the screen, wishing, wanting, and feeling for that movie. It was so nicely done. From the acting, brilliantly handled, to the directing, never camrons problem, down to the sets, costumes, audio, and other wonderfully placed visuals. Not only was the movie well thought out, but it became one of those rare films in which everyone, boy girl, man woman, could feel for at least one person, part, event. I would reccomend anyone I know to see this movie. It was a chance to take yourself away from your own problems and let you watch someone elses moving you all the way through. ****/****
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mjw230530 July 2005
William has an overprotective mother, and his sister has already been driven away by her refusal to accept her children's ambitions and interests. William finds solace in his sister's music collection and begins to dream of a life as a rock journalist. At 15 William manages to land a assignment with Rolling Stone Magazine to interview an up and coming band called Stillwater, and he quickly finds himself immersed in the life his mother so desperately wanted to protect him from.

And so the story begins, as William tours with the band, we are taken on a journey of mistrust, discovery, deceit and disappointment; interlaced with the hard truths about the bands lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, sex and music.

Almost Famous pulls no punches, and is a deep insight into the dream that became an ambition, that became a harsh reality.

Packed with top class performances all round and great music score Almost Famous delivers, and delivers with attitude and realism that is rarely captured on film.

A must see for Fans of the genre, but there's certainly enough here for everyone.

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Carpe diem!
FrenchEddieFelson8 April 2019
A cinematographic dithyramb of rock, epicureanism and the 70s that reminds me nonetheless a well-known fiction The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera, 1984): although it's nice to listen to and enjoy a rock album, I'm not sure that the lives of band members are of any interest (some will probably deduce that I'm not 'cool' enough).

In the 70s, William Miller is a young and bright music aficionado. He is only 15 years old, but what he wants most in the world is writing articles about this music he loves so much. Thus, he takes advantage of a proposition from the bi-monthly Rolling Stone to follow the rock band Stillwater, on tour throughout the United States. He will gradually and ineluctably abandon the passivity and objectivity of his role of observer to participate in the life of the group. Until ... ... ...

These secondary characters gravitate around William Miller: 1) Russell Hammond is one of the key members of Stillwater and perfectly symbolizes epicureanism and lightness. 2) Penny Lane is a carefree teenager who fills the void of her live with rock 'n roll, and she would probably have swallowed the blue pill within The Matrix (The Wachowski sisters, 1999). 3) Lester Bangs is a mentor and / or surrogate father for William. 4) Elaine Miller is a protective and moving mother. The actors play in a magisterial way, especially Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In general, the whole cast is awesome!

My favorite quotes, in bulk: You have a message from your mother that freaked me out: do not use drugs. It's not too late for you to become a person of substance. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. Be honest and unmerciful. There is hope for you, yet. What kind of beer?
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Surprisingly sweet dramedy hits the mark
Quinoa198418 September 2000
This film may have just one flaw- it aims too high. But that doesn't matter in this world. Here, we see the autobiographical tale of Cameron Crowe (writer/director and co-producer of this film) in his days as a young writer for Rolling Stone (one story I think) as seen by William Miller. He follows a rock band called Stillwater (much to mom's dismay played well by Frances McDormand) on a Almost Famous tour with rockers, groupies and bandaids. Real sweetness comes when the worlds of Miller and the band combine and dramedy kicks in. Quite the Crowe picture, one of his best ones, that takes a look at the days of rock when it was still cool to do drugs, have sex and be cool singing Elton John in a bus (that scene was the highlight). Band members include Billy Crudup, Jason Lee and others including Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, and in a exceptional performance, the free spirited Penny Lane played by Kate Hudson. This film is definately in my top 25 list of the year. A-
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Its Honest About Its Own Dishonesty
tedg24 September 2000
Here's Crowe's film about his own struggle between whether to write a puff piece (to entertain) and the incisive truth (to stimulate, inform, extend). The focus is also the method as the film itself is not at all true or insightful.

Instead, what we have is a very well-written, mostly competently executed feel-good story. Along the way, we have lovable characters, and situations pulled from the stock catalog. I liked an equivalent raw competence in "Autumn in New York," but there they weren't dishonest.

The dishonesty here is in the glossy romanticizing of the end of the rock era. GenXers who weren't there want to feel that it was all rather harmless so they couldn't have missed much important with their inconsequential music fads. Boomers, the real rock generation, don't want to be reminded that they balked upon being led to the cusp of a revolution. So the movie has a constituently for romanticizing rock, while castrating its power. America has a tradition of doing this to the past, beginning with Native Americans, who we disarm by nobilizing.

Crowe knows this -- he is after all here to push buttons and make money. But he is also an intelligent man, so has referenced his dilemma with his two alter egos: the kid and the Hoffman character. This latter, small role makes this film worth seeing, because it is explicitly self-referential. The reflection is the infilm characterization of the film as superficial.

Hoffman is a wonderful actor, and the role is exquisite, touching both on the issue of real journalism (merciless) contrasting with celebrity (here codified as "cool"). Starting around then, journalism was turned to the manufacturing of coolness outside the film industry, and Rolling Stone was the main pimp, sort of the Microsoft of cultural vapidity. Hoffman's character remains true, and though Crowe himself has sold out (taking the Rolling Stone route), he's honest enough to know and be explicit about it. For that, I tip my hat.

Some few things in the film rang true: we really did think that this music could "set you free," even Simon and Garfunkle (but not Elton John!). The stewardess costumes really were that doll-like. I appreciated the Eastern Airlines dressage (but it should have been on a 727, not a modern DC-10). Creem was indeed studied (but why not mention the more merciless and honest "Crawdaddy"?).

Some few things rankled. The airplane scene was just amaturish. McDormand's character was too one-dimensionally daft for this sometimes excellent actress. Drugs and misogyny were almost absent in this rosey story. It would have helped to describe why the world thought southern rock groups could revive genuine rock, and how that hope grew out of latent racism. A character reveals he is gay, but that word, nor any not derogatory, would not have been used then. We miss the often cruel harem politics that stressed the camp followers' alliances.

You can have Kate Hudson, and overlong fawning on her grin. I'll eagerly await Hoffman's next film, though.
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Terrific Rock and Roll and So Much More
Chrysanthepop1 September 2007
'Almost Famous', based on director Cameron Crowe's own experiences as a writer, is a formidable piece of work. It can be viewed as a coming-of-age story, a study of a 'collage' of characters mixed into a wonderful story or a love story. Crowe smoothly tells his story about William's love for rock music, his curiosity and excitement towards the world of rockstars and rock music, his relationship with the musicians and the Band-aids, his relationship with his mother and sister. He's put a lot of heart into the making of this dream (?) project and clearly shows a deep understanding for rock and roll. What makes 'Almost Famous' different from other rock movies is that it doesn't solely focus on drugs, sex, etc. Sure, they are there but there's a whole lot more going on, both good and bad. Crowe shows us what attracts people to the world of rock.

Every single actor does nothing short of a great job. Even those with limited screen-time, such as Zooey Deschanel and Fairuza Balk are outstanding. Of course the superb dialogues also help richen the characters but the dialogue delivery is up to the actors. Kate Hudson is stunning and fits her part like a glove. She is amazing with the subtle expressions and shares a wonderful chemistry with her co-stars. Crudup is brilliant as the guitarist who's under the impression that he's loved by everyone and that he's the best. Hoffman, Lee and Taylor are very good. McDormand is sublime. One can't help but love this character. And, last but not least, Fugit as William Miller effortlessly pulls off the character's awkwardness and initial unease to losing his virginity, falling in love and understanding it all.

As mentioned earlier, Crowe's writing is just fantastic. It would have been easy to make Elaine Miller a caricature anti-rock and roll mother or Anita Miller as the mom-hating rebellious teen but Crowe just gave enough attention to writing all the characters well enough. The dialogues make the screenplay more unique e.g. the scene where Elaine Miller screams out of the car to her son "Don't do Drugs", or the turbulent scene where the Rockband confess. The soundtrack itself is a 'must-buy'.

There's a lot more that I can write about but I'll just stop here. Those who think 'Almost Famous' is nothing different from other rock movies, then they just missed the point. It's funny, it's got drama, it's got wonderful characters, great music, it's rock and roll!
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An enjoyable blend of humor, drama-lite, and rock.
=G=14 March 2001
"Almost Famous" tells of a 15 year old prodigy (Fugit) who hits the road with a rock band to chronicle their story as a wannabee journalist for a rock magazine. Predictably, the youth gets a different kind of education as he's exposed to rocks stars, groupies, drugs, etc. while his High School class is busy being graduated. A well managed, well made flick, "Almost..." begins to run out of gas somewhere between Topeka and New York with one frenetic, raucous situation after another. Nonetheless, this lively flick never loses sight of its humanness and pulls itself together with a poignant ending which is worth the wait. An enjoyable watch for all rock lovers mature enough for a mild R rating.
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Is there a conspiracy to deny this is a turkey?
paddyshack15 December 2003
Does this movie tap into some American subconscious that I am unaware of - is there a national paean for bell bottoms and groupiedoom that overlooks the awfulness of this film? For a start it is very boring, following the not very interesting or even rock and roll adventures of a very well behaved rock group and a journalist with the world's longest deadline trying to pen an article about them. there are groupies whom we never see having sex, very little drug taking, not much boozing, but most clankingly of all a love story between a child, a guitarist and the apparently irresistible Penny Lane, who I guess is supposed to be enigmatic but is really just vapid and if Hudson's performance is all it takes to get an Oscar nomination then get you daughter on the stage Mrs Robinson, it's there for the taking.

hilariously we have continually "just missed" various real rock stars who are "next door", and "by the pool" which at least provided some light relief throughout this too-long clunker, but I am sure it wasn't meant to.

Yet this is 150 ALL TIME movie. Nearly 7000 voted this a 10? What am I missing here? This film provides a perfect companion piece for the Banger Sisters as two movies, that if I ever see again, will require a major shift in lifestyle so that I never have 2 hours to waste as badly as that again. At least with the Banger sisters I was on a plane. Almost unwatchable and you can remove the almost in the case of a second viewing.
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Rock and Roll is Here to Stay
bkoganbing14 December 2007
Young Patrick Fugit, a talented juvenile writer, gets a once in a lifetime opportunity, to travel with a mid level rock band as a journalist. If the piece is good, Rolling Stone may pick it up and his career is made. Trying to pin the band down for an interview, especially the deliberately elusive leader, Billy Crudup is harder than you would think. These guys in the band Stillwater are Almost Famous, they're just a step away, but it's hard step to take.

Billy Crudup is one of the best players around today and it's his portrayal of Russell Hammond, lead singer of Stillwater on which the film pivots. It's a very complex role and we see all sides of Russell Hammond, talented, charismatic, loyal, self indulgent, hedonistic, it's all there and whole lot more. Just how honest can young Mr. Fugit be and where does being a fan stop and being a journalist start. Fugit may not know, but the band members keep asking the question.

Kate Hudson is around and does very well as the girl 'Penny Lane' who follows Stillwater. She's not a groupie, the term she prefers is Band Aide. And Frances McDormand is around as Fugit's mom who is constantly checking in on her son to see that he doesn't enjoy too much of the good life on the rock scene.

Almost Famous is a very graphic picture of the rock scene of the mid Seventies. Director Cameron Crowe did a great job capturing the mood of the times as well as good performances from the cast. Still it's Billy Crudup's picture and this is a must for his fans.
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Very good if you view it in its proper context
mstomaso10 December 2005
Almost Famous follows the adventures of young rock journalist William Miller (a character loosely based on the experiences of writer/director Cameron Crowe in the same role during the 1970s) as he tries to get his first big story. He is coached by the legendary Lester Bangs, who is wonderfully played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Rolling Stone has offered him a cover and is funding his tour with Stillwater. Stillwater is a proletarian hard rock band apparently based on the Allman Brothers that has just begun to make it big.

What this film does brilliantly is to situate the viewer in its action. The film is shot from the perspective of a relatively clear-headed fifteen-year-old - our protagonist is too good to be true, some of his experiences are just a bit fantastic, and the love triangle between Fugit, Crudup and Hudson has magic around its edges. Yet the whole film has an almost voyeuristic truthful feel to it. Notably, this is all done with third-person perspective, so the manipulations are barely noticeable.

The performances are great all-around, with Crudup, McDormand, Lee and others playing the archetypal characters of the 1970s to the hilt - rock stars, well-intentioned but somewhat oppressive moms, and groupies. Fugit and Hudson are removed from their time and context through the timelessness of the theme they share - the honest love of two good friends who respect each other too much to allow their friendship to develop into something potentially destructive. The uniquely REAL bond between these two stands in bold relief against the backdrop of unreal, delusional and pretentious relationships created by drugs, celebrity, and the road.

The photographic technique is so subtle that it is difficult to make yourself aware of it. The script is more or less flawless, and the pace of the film is fine - neither too brisk nor plodding.

Though autobiographical, this film doesn't fit solidly into any specific category. It's mostly a coming of age story, but has forceful elements of road movie, romantic comedy and period piece. There is also some confusion about what the film is about. Some say its about rock and roll. I disagree, but I think my disagreement stems from the fact that of all of this films elements, rock and roll is one of the one's which interest me least. Upon reflection, however, I can also say that the critique the film offers of the '1970s scene' in rock is dead-on accurate, and more truthful than many of the other films I have seen which claim to represent it (The Filth and The Fury being one of the better exceptions).

I guess we'll stick with the catch-all - drama. In short, this is a well-made, thoughtful and entertaining film which can be enjoyed from a number of different perspectives, even if you're not a big fan of its general themes. Recommended.
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one of my favorite movies
khouston8612 April 2003
The first time I saw this, I think I was tired or distracted or something. For whatever reason, it didn't make much of an impression on me. Or rather, I didn't pay enough attention to appreciate it. I'm glad I watched it again, and I don't know what I was thinking before. "Almost Famous" is one of the best-written, most fun, most touching movies I have ever seen. It gets better the more you see it. McDormand is excellent and right on as the Mom. Hell, the whole cast is excellent and right on. This movie is a gift to our culture. We are richer and fuller because it was made. That is rare praise, but this is a rare movie.
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You won't believe what is on the menu...
teekayu89 September 2007
This film is something that will just simply blow your mind to millions little fragment and walk away smiling. It is something we all could related ourselves to. I mean - WOW!- An autobiography that is so awesome I give it a 9/10! Not many autobiography deserve such praise. So far that I know of are Capote, Antwone Fisher, and Coach Carter. The songs are great, the scenery are great, and especially the direction of this movie is way beyond any I've seen this year. It rocks your brain and just seeps through the arteries and live there. Up in your head, you will still remember this film, no matter how many years pass by. It relates itself to you so good you have become what you always wanted to be for at least 5 seconds. Thats why they call it Almost Famous. We all are.

Something rare and original that is truly worth a watch. You will never find any other film like it. These are pure emotions. 9/10.
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Quite unique
harry_tk_yung16 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers

I enjoyed this film to a large extent because of its uniqueness. The only other film I've seen about a rock group on tour is Beijing Rocks (2001) which is, although a decent production, not quite in the same league. Rock & Roll to me is Elvis Prestley and Donny Osmond (why on earth Donny? you ask…… the answer is the 'Donny & Marie Show') so there you go. I do enjoy the music in AF but clearly not with the intense passion a lot of people in the audience would have.

The structure of the story line is quite fascinating: a 15-year-old budding rock magazine writer following a not-quite-first-line rock group on tour, thereby giving us some interesting insight into what the entire business is about. The 'band aids', a group of super-fans forming a further attachment to the group, add another fascinating dimension. I can't help asking myself though if the depiction of the rock group is a little bit on the 'mild' side. The band leader Russell, portrayed lovingly by Billy Crudup (who later played a somewhat underrated role in Big Fish), comes across more like a boy scout leader.

Kate Hudson, portraying an ultra-devoted 'band aid' Penny Lane, was good enough for an Oscar supporting nomination. Hudson is a versatile actress capable of many different roles, but Penny Lane is the most Goldie Hawnish character she has ever attempted. In AF, there are a few shots in which she can almost be mistaken for her mother. While on Oscar supporting actress, AF had two nominations, the other being Frances McDormand (I'll come to her later). Neither won, as the Oscar went to Marcia Gay Harden in 'Pollock'. Although I have not seen Pollock, I know how good Harden can be. She was nominated again last year for Mystic River, and, in my view, could have beaten Zellweger (Cold Mountain) had she not already got one. But I digress.

The best thing about AF, to me, are two top-notch artists. I've mentioned Frances McDormand (playing the young writer's protective mother), who has a best actress Oscar from Fargo. The other is Philip Seymour Hoffman (playing what can be loosely described as his mentor), who is good enough for an Oscar in Owning Mahowny. It's really a scandal that he wasn't even nominated. With these two around, any picture is worth watching.
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Hopes, Dreams & Nightmares.
Spikeopath13 July 2015
Almost Famous is Cameron Crowe's paean to rock music, of bands and songs, of journalism and promotion, of sex & drugs. Drawing from experience and stories passed on, Crowe tells the tale of a young teenage boy aspiring to be a music journalist in the 1970s. Finding himself backstage with the rock group Stillwater, William Miller (Patrick Fugit) embarks on a road journey with the band that's awash with egos, groupies, perils and pleasures, all of which change his life forever.

Lets go find something real!

The most striking thing about it is that it's not overtly funny or sensationalistic, it's a production that's full of love, real love, for the subject matters to hand, and it's very often a moving experience to be part of. Narratively speaking, Crowe takes his time, steadily building characters and backdrop essentials, it works a treat as we become immersed in all the major players within the music circle, while also feeling the concerns of those on the outside of the rock group circle. Which of course gives us the great rewards come the final third of film when all matters come to a head. Crowe and his design team also work some magic for period flavours, capturing the early 70s vibe with awareness of clothing, food and drink and transport. Nothing ever seems false, which is remarkable in this era of product placements and shameless plugging.

50 bucks and a case of beer!

Another one of Crowe's strengths is how he garners great performances from his actors. There's no big stars here, no Tom or Renée, but Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, Kate Hudson and Fugit, who respond to their director with sincere and believable performances, no caricatures or ham sarnies here, no way. While outskirt performances from Frances McDormand (brilliant as William's fretful mother), Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (as the legendary Lester Bangs) and Fairuza Balk, consistently hit the hi-hat. The music of course rocks, from metal and progers, to folkers and bubblegum, to some punk godfathery, these sounds feature on the soundtrack and kick the decade into orbit - while the Stillwater scenes are effective and the use of Elton John's Tiny Dancer will land in your heart and stay there.

Cameron Crowe has created a smashingly memorable film that will stand the tests of time. Two cuts are available, where both the theatrical and director's cuts are sure fire things (the latter Bootleg Cut my personal favourite). This is a music based film to sit with the best of them, God Bless Rock N Roll and God Bless Cameron Crowe, for he could have easily embellished and over egged his rock pudding, instead he kept it real. 9/10
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Possibly my favorite film of all time.
shawnybug981179 August 2013
"I'm on drugs!" is the first thing you will say once you're finished watching Almost Famous. It's that good. That's basically how Russell would describe it, and that's exactly how I would describe it as well. Almost Famous is the story of an excluded high school student/rock writer that gets a chance to write an article for Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming band; much to the dismay of his over-protective mother. This is a semi-true story based on Cameron Crowe's early years. The film includes extraordinary performances by Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, and Jason Lee, but every Almost Famous fan would agree that the real stars are Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson. Frances McDormand beautifully plays the mother, while Kate Hudson is a groupie that rides with the band throughout the time that the writer (William Miller) is with the band. Both earned Academy Award nominations, but neither won. Over time, it is fairly obvious that Kate Hudson should have won. The film brought both actresses great success, but the really winner was Hudson, who has gained role after role since then. Now-a-days, she hasn't had that much, most likely because she never really showed the acting that she did in Almost Famous ever again.

One Academy Award nomination that Almost Famous failed to grasp is for best picture. And really, was Chocolat really that good? Almost Famous earned a mere one win, going to it's magical writing by Cameron Crowe. It also had an amazing soundtrack that was mentioned countlessly in the script, and perfectly portrays music in the 1970's.

Overall, this film is one of if not my favorite film of all time, and is a must-see for anybody that has ever even heard of the 1970's.

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Perhaps the Best Film of the Decade
Michael_Elliott8 February 2013
Almost Famous (2000)

**** (out of 4)

Cameron Crowe's masterpiece about high schooler William Miller (Patrick Fugit) who gets a job with Rolling Stone to do a story on an upcoming band named Stillwater. The young and naive kid gets to go out on the road with them where he quickly grows up and sees that the world isn't always perfect. ALMOST FAMOUS is one of the greatest coming of age movies ever made and it's perhaps the greatest love story to rock 'n roll ever filmed. I think a strong argument could also be made that it's the greatest film of the decade as well. There's so much love and passion during every single scene that you can't help but see and feel that this is Crowe's baby and it's easy to see why since much of this is based on his life growing up. This film contains so many terrific moments but I think what makes it so special are the various relationships that are built on the road. This includes William trying to mix it up with the band's guitar player (Billy Crudup) who refuses to give him an interview as well as the girl (Kate Hudson) that both of them love for different reasons. The overly worried mother (Frances McDormand) is perfectly written and thrown into the story for some comic relief but even the smaller characters are so well-written and detailed that by the time the movie is over it's almost like you've seen a documentary of a real band. Crowe's direction has never been better as this film has quite a bit of different emotions going for it yet he perfectly holds it together and really makes the film take off to levels one wouldn't expect. As a fan of rock and roll you have to love the behind-the-scenes look at a tour and the various problems that come from the sex and drugs. You also have to have fun and admire this young kid being able to go out on the road as this would be an ultimate dream job for many. The film mixes in some terrific music but the highlight is of course 'Tiny Dancer' from Elton John, which is without question one of the best and most magical scenes from any movie. The performances are all a major plus from the bigger acts to the smaller roles. Everyone fits their roles perfectly and help bring the story to life. ALMOST FAMOUS is a flawless picture that just keeps getting better with each new viewing. Some say the film is too soft and should have attacked the music harder or been more raw but I really disagree with these comments. The film is a love story to the music and one of the greatest out there.
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Simply put, "Almost Famous" rocks
natw4 April 2012
"Almost Famous" is nearly perfect as a film about the glory days of rock 'n' roll, when we thought our music just might change the world. But this is not an expose on the dangers, debauchery and shallowness of rock's practitioners. It is an achingly sweet coming-of-age tale that explores issues faced by musicians of the rock era, their fans and all those on the sidelines. The protagonist, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), is a precocious, fresh-faced 15-year-old who has been infused with the magic of rock by his older sister, a wonderful Zooey Deschanel, who has had enough of her domineering, protective mother (played with relish by Frances McDormand) and leaves home to become a stewardess. She bequeaths to William her precious treasure trove of albums. Young rock writer William is mentored by Creem magazine editor Lester Bangs (the magnificent Phillip Seymour Hoffman. "Be honest and unmerciful," Bangs advises) and gets a plumb assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to cover an up-and-coming band, Stillwater. He ends up on the road with the group, precariously balancing a fan's exuberance with a sense of professionalism. William is befriended - and protected in a strange way - by another teen, Penny Lane, a groupie (no, "band-aid," she declares) who uses William to get close to Stillwater's lead guitarist, Russell, played by Billy Crudup. Kate Hudson, as Penny Lane, is simply astonishing, lending depth to a role that could easily have become a cliché. Every scene in which she appears seems to take on a luminous quality, partly because of her angelic appearance and bubbly personality. William falls for Penny (who wouldn't?) but his love is unrequited, as she wants desperately for Russell to love her back. There are many things going on here, but director Cameron Crowe handles them all with aplomb, bringing the plot to an unexpected but satisfying conclusion. As one who personally experienced rock's golden age, the movie touches me in a very personal way. But even for those who had the misfortune of being born after Zeppelin rocked the arenas, "Almost Famous" delivers an emotional wallop. I saw this movie shortly after its release in 2000, and I have revisited it many times since, which is as rewarding as listening to old records again and again. To do otherwise would be like playing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band one time and then throwing the album away.
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Starts A Little Slow, Then Takes Off
Jakemcclake3 December 2009
Spoilers The story tells you about the tremendous insensitivity of individuals that are struggling to get somewhere. We follow a teenage boy as he attempts to get interviews for a story about a Rock Group for Rolling Stone Magazine. The boys mother knows that there is something wrong with the "Rock" world he is entering. She believes that the problems are drugs and other parts of the Rock world lifestyle. She reluctantly lets him travel with the group.

The boy however, discovers that the real problems in this world are the same as problems in the rest of the world, the insensitivity that appear to characterize everyone in the the story who is struggling to succeed.

Along the way he meets Penny Lane, a form of a groupie who is played well by Kate Hudson. She indicates she is about the music, and her actions indicates she is really about relationships. She has a relationship with the leader of the band that is being interviewed, Russell. She shows no need to succeed, and she hurts no one. However, she gets hurt by Russell's insensitive actions and saved by the boy from a suicide attempt. The boy gets hurt by the band's insensitive actions, but in the end they back up the story he is telling.
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