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Overall Rating
4.26

Awesome59.83%
Worth A Look: 20.92%
Average: 10.88%
Pretty Bad: 2.51%
Total Crap: 5.86%

15 reviews, 149 user ratings


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Almost Famous
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by Scott Weinberg

"I CHALLENGE you not to enjoy this fantastic movie."
5 stars

Almost Famous is a movie without villains. There’s not one scene that seems lifted from an earlier movie. This production is free of formula, pretense or cheap artifice. Several scenes make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on some conversation about old times and lost innocence. In a year in which most movies have been as foul as a compost heap, this film is a deep breath of fresh air, and I anticipate that the beloved Oscar award will confirm my beliefs. You could pick any one of a half-dozen actors who could be nominated for Almost Famous, and Cameron Crowe should be looking at two nominations, as well.

Writer/director Cameron Crowe has created four films in the past eleven years. While that’s certainly not a lot of movies (especially by Hollywood standards), you can always expect a touching and personal story from him. If the rumors of Crowe’s ‘perfectionist’ nature are true, that’s just fine with me. His debut effort, Say Anything, was a near-perfect rose in the trampled garden of the 'teen-movie’ genre. Singles was his second directorial effort, and while it’s not nearly a perfect movie, there are several honest and truly entertaining components throughout.

Then his third effort, Jerry Maguire, vaulted him onto the “A-list” of directors. (Prior to directing films, Crowe had also written the screenplays for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Wild Life.) With a wonderful 3 for 3 track record thus far, Crowe unveils his latest (and arguably best) movie, Almost Famous. Quite simply, this is one of the most entertaining films of the past five years, and the accolades start with Crowe himself.

Loosely based on his Crowe’s own experiences, Almost Famous tells the story of young William Miller (Patrick Fugit), who dreams of being a rock critic. His love for music is a gift from his sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel), who gives him her record collection before leaving home to become an airline stewardess. Their mother Elaine (Frances McDormand) does not approve of the volatile music, and she’s smart enough to know what really goes on at rock concerts. When William reaches age 15, his writing starts to get noticed, and he eventually becomes friendly with legendary rock scribe Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who offers him an assignment: Write 500 words on an upcoming Black Sabbath concert.

After the concert, as William attempts to get backstage for an interview with the band, he meets the ‘Band-Aids’, a wholesome gaggle of groupies played by Kate Hudson, Fairuza Balk and Anna Paquin. After the ladies quickly disappear into the concert hall, William finds himself face to face with the band Stillwater, and they invite him to hang around backstage for a while. The young writer quickly makes an impression, and lands a gig for Rolling Stone covering Stillwater’s ‘Almost Famous’ tour.

William’s intention is to write an accurate and honest story about the band, but his objectivity is constantly challenged as he becomes close with several members of the entourage, most notably lead singer Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and groupie/muse Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). While he tries to follow the advice of Lester Bangs, which is to be merciless regarding his interview subjects, the ties he quickly forms with the group make that near impossible. Guitarist Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) jokingly refers to William as ‘The Enemy’, since rock journalists are often noted for exposing their subjects, warts and all.

The screenplay is a perfect combination of ‘behind-the-scenes’ gossip, wonderfully honest dialogue and several truly hilarious exchanges. While there are several ‘laugh out loud’ scenes, you won’t notice many ‘punch lines’. Especially noteworthy is the production design, which brings the early 70’s to life in effectively accurate, yet subtle, style. The overall tone of the movie is simply likable, as if Crowe were offering us his true tales, only polished up to make the good stuff sweeter and the nasty stuff less important.

While I’d venture to say that the script is the real star of the movie, the cast of actors on display here is uniformly excellent. Newcomer Patrick Fugit (seen previously only in a TV-movie entitled Killer Ants!) is stunningly good as young William, with his wide eyes, cockeyed grin and rampant integrity. Equally as strong is the luminous Kate Hudson (200 Cigarettes). As Penny Lane, she shows us a lot; her confidence and bravado is always laced with innocence, and her performance is simply a joy to behold. It of course comes as no surprise that Frances McDormand (Fargo) is brilliantly funny and instantly lovable as the over-protective Elaine. While in any other movie, her character would be the ‘nagging comic relief’, McDormand is simply too talented of an actress (and her role is that well written) for that to happen here. Jason Lee (Chasing Amy) impresses in a several scenes, as one of the more spoiled band members and Fairuza Balk (The Craft) is memorable in a small, yet important, role.

But there’s more! Billy Crudup (Waking the Dead) nearly blows all these great performances out of the water with his portrayal of Russell, the band’s lead singer. The friendship between Russell and William is one of the movie’s most important, and Crudup shines at every opportunity, showing equal parts of arrogance, honesty, warmth and frustration. In smaller roles, Zooey Deschanel (Mumford) and Anna Paquin (The Piano) aren’t given too much to do, but they entertain in small doses nonetheless.

It’s movies like Almost Famous that make me wish that an Oscar was awarded for best ensemble cast. I’ve been rambling about everyone in the entire movie, and haven’t even gotten to Philip Seymour Hoffman (Magnolia) as Lester Bangs. In his relatively short career, this actor has proven himself to wonderfully talented and also versatile as hell. (Watch Flawless, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski and Hard Eight for the versatility I’m referring to.) If Almost Famous is a five-course dinner, Hoffman’s world-weary and sarcastic portrayal of Lester is the touch of salt that makes the meal perfect.

Crowe’s film is not a story about rock concerts or drug-enhanced hotel orgies; it’s about a handful of people, a few of them rock stars, and a few of them along for the ride. There’s a real sense of intimacy in many scenes, as if the writer had really been there and some of these people really existed. (Of course, we know that the writer WAS there, and that these people did, in some form, exist.)

The fact that Crowe could present this personal of a story, and have it be so original and entertaining, is a testament to his skill as a writer. Almost Famous is almost a perfect movie, for the parents of today who lived through this era, or the kids of today who want to see why this place and time meant so much to that generation.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3454&reviewer=128
originally posted: 09/12/00 17:17:08
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell boring as fuck i hate this movie 1 stars
1/11/13 Martel732 Rock in the early '70s,according to ditzy,hippy airhead flibberdegibbet ,Nancy Wilson 1 stars
11/30/12 Leonard over-hyped-- This could have been Disney...was the screenplay written by a 15 yr old, too? 2 stars
3/31/12 Peter Reilich "rock stopped being art and started being a product of big business" is untrue. always both 1 stars
10/10/10 Dymphna Kahl Very good movie & acting, , song "Tiny Dancer" the best. 4 stars
8/11/10 art a GRAND 1970's HIPPIE MOVIE! 4 stars
8/06/10 Heather! One of my favorite movies ever! Hilarious and moving...I love Cameron Crowe! 5 stars
12/28/09 Bert I have to say this is my favorite movie of all time! 5 stars
11/05/09 Jeff Wilder Perfect rock and roll film. 5 stars
7/05/09 MP Bartley Soft peddles everything to the detriment of the film - nice while it lasts, though. 4 stars
3/02/09 Samantha Pruitt very interesting with great characters and acting! 4 stars
1/17/09 matt flawless 5 stars
7/04/07 fools♫gold I give you up, mb: your totally personal life I know little of seems empty. 5 stars
3/18/07 mb Gave It Up After 37 min. ... seemed empty 2 stars
11/25/06 David Pollastrini very good 5 stars
10/24/06 Jess loved it! all the performances are wonderful! 5 stars
4/24/06 Annie Made me remember being a teen of the 70's! Oops, telling my age here! 5 stars
4/02/06 I'll stay anonymous this time if you don't mind A rock film for people who don't like rock. Or movies, particularly 2 stars
8/20/05 ES If you dream of bing a rock groupie this is your film 1 stars
8/05/05 ^podo incredible.... 5 stars
5/22/05 Chlo ...don't you mean the 70s, cris? 4 stars
5/05/05 Cindy Lovell I loved it, Jason Lee was awesome 5 stars
3/14/05 cris i will always love this movie! for 2 h, i live in the 60s 5 stars
2/28/05 Lorrin Great movie, not once did I want to turn it off 5 stars
2/14/05 sbpat21 a modern classic; masterpiece 5 stars
2/07/05 Desperado Touching,amazing, brilliant coming of age story that makes me want to grow up in that era 5 stars
12/17/04 sully no sex,no drugs,no rock&roll,dumbed down after school special 1 stars
12/09/04 Joshua Hitchens Amazing 5 stars
9/17/04 Jacqui Ambler Touching, but never a cliche, complex but never full of its own edginess. 5 stars
9/15/04 anna wicked 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva where is the story 2 stars
5/23/04 muffin cool film! 5 stars
5/13/04 This girl A solid three star movie from the always good but never earth-shattering Cameron Crowe 3 stars
5/02/04 Nicole Settimi This is one of those instances where you will feel it is more than "just watching a movie". 5 stars
4/11/04 Peter It brought back fond memories of the era 5 stars
4/05/04 Charlene Javier Another Crowe classic! 5 stars
12/15/03 Christia Bjørnskov One of my all-time favourites...everything rings true. 5 stars
10/31/03 Veronica Lodge One of my top faves... this movie is absolutely beautiful, nostalgic, and poetic 5 stars
10/17/03 sarah i h8 it, it really sux 1 stars
10/10/03 Erik Van Sant Great upon first viewing...then you realize what a stupid, annoying slut Kate Hudson is. 3 stars
8/23/03 yulia loved it! penny lane - amazing screen presence... 5 stars
6/23/03 cochese overrated, the kids annoying and so is kate hudson. 3 stars
6/04/03 Charles Tatum A perfect film 5 stars
3/24/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III damn fucking good. this is in my top 15 of all time. 5 stars
1/17/03 y2mckay FEVER DAWG, SCRATCHIN' AT MY BACK DOOR . . . Jason Lee rox, Kate Hudson quite droolworthy 4 stars
12/03/02 Monster W. Kung Entertaining and interesting, but not a masterpiece. Doesn't try to go deep enough. 4 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted One of the Bests of 2000. Billy Crudup delivers an amazing perf. 5 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 Jason Lee and an appearance by Jimmy Fallon. A great flick, no doubt. 5 stars
9/27/02 mell it was the sh*t!!! 5 stars
9/15/02 Joe Zappa (I'm Back!) I like it because it's funny and it has Jason Lee in it. 4 stars
8/13/02 guisada crap. 1 stars
8/08/02 Silellak A truly amazing movie 5 stars
8/06/02 hum story is really nothing special and yet its a very enjoyable flick 3 stars
7/21/02 Sofia just a really great movie, from beginning to end. 5 stars
7/15/02 Dan Rapp A great film that captures the feel of the early-mid seventies. 5 stars
7/08/02 Mr. Punch If you don't smile during the entire movie, then it's time to order your gravestone. 5 stars
6/23/02 The Conscience Objector simply put:crowes greatest 5 stars
6/06/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi sweet!!! 5 stars
6/02/02 sdjfsdkjf top notch. Kate hudson was really good in this, I was suprised. Loved the music. 5 stars
5/29/02 Gary Highly enjoyable comedy fleshed out by excellent performances. Brilliant. 4 stars
5/27/02 Nicole Great movie.....gotta love the end 4 stars
4/30/02 katie my favorite movie. loved everything about it! 5 stars
3/16/02 Sara Goldfarb's Red Dress 'Tiny Dancer' sing-along a great movie moment..rest was kinda shite 4 stars
3/08/02 Mo Anand I think this movie has all the essentials...comedy, drama, and great music 5 stars
3/02/02 Chowie Fucking AWESOME! 5 stars
3/02/02 Alan Smithee A most excellent film (especially the director's cut)...and I want to marry Kate Hudson. 5 stars
3/01/02 melissa if your into the 70 era, its your your movie. Its awesome 5 stars
2/21/02 luda hoe good script 4 stars
2/09/02 Veronica Tatterworth Almost aimless would be more like it. And the point is? 2 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden Boring and Unlikeable Rock-Movie. Maybe This Would Have Been Better In 1972. 1 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick did we all see the same movie???? 1 stars
12/17/01 Fred Emmer fabulous and touching story that sinks into your skin 5 stars
12/04/01 Peter Reilich The Spinal Tap of rock music critics, without trying to be funny = double satire 1 stars
10/14/01 gus nice 5 stars
10/08/01 Tzila Seewald it's great and make me move somewhat 5 stars
10/04/01 daniboy best 2000 film by far 5 stars
9/14/01 Donelle Bourne I loved the movie!! 5 stars
9/05/01 Revster.Jeffster a really sweet film- drags a little here and there 4 stars
9/02/01 john cramer limp, insipid, bad original music, wasted talent...waste of time 1 stars
7/08/01 John Lyons Loved it. Really impressed with Kate Hudson! 5 stars
6/22/01 Josh Tybur One of those movies that makes you feel better about life.... 5 stars
6/18/01 Shuttle Doc If you grew up then, and this doesn't grab you...your dead inside. Simply awsome 5 stars
6/13/01 il siciliano thet'n nice film writing 5 stars
6/10/01 Phil M. Afficianado Watch this and a warm feeling should come over you. If not, get a checkup for cynicism. 5 stars
6/03/01 R.W. Welch Not heavyweight stuff, but nicely done and effectively written. 4 stars
5/30/01 Jake Frances does it again. 5 stars
5/20/01 BillP brilliant script and Kate Hudson's sweet smile carry a very fine movie. 5 stars
5/11/01 J Good movie but FAR from being 2000's best. 4 stars
5/06/01 Gariess Excellent, Almost lost me at the start. Took a little too long to get going. 4 stars
4/26/01 bombshell it was one the greatest movies i have seen 5 stars
4/18/01 Brian Good Film, Awesome Music 4 stars
4/09/01 Girl 9 Just could have been done so much better. 3 stars
4/02/01 gellybean182 I loved it... it's so real 5 stars
3/26/01 LadyZoe WOW - the soundtrack rocks! Tthe movie is funny, sad & painfully truthful re road life.. 5 stars
3/20/01 Monday Morning Almost great...very good slice of the 70s w/ terrific characters. 4 stars
3/15/01 TheRock Anyone who doesn't like this film is crazy 5 stars
3/14/01 Onyx Almost enjoyable. Doesn't seem to be going anywhere. 3 stars
3/04/01 Suzz loved it 5 stars
3/04/01 Donna Sindle I watched it FOUR times! I absolutely loved it! 5 stars
3/02/01 viking The most enjoyable rock film since "Still Crazy" 5 stars
2/24/01 matthew smith a very funny and nostaglic film 5 stars
2/21/01 Rich My personal favorite for 2000. An honest movie with a great story. 5 stars
2/20/01 Nick Berger cheesy shit...nothin i didnt expect though...cameron crowe sucks 2 stars
2/15/01 Michael Nicholls Almost good... 3 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Sometimes...very rarely, but sometimes...it pays to believe the hype. 5 stars
1/22/01 Evan Price one of my favorite films EVER crowe's best work... magical 5 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 Definetly one of the best films of the year with great supporting performances all around. 5 stars
12/31/00 kevin Pretty good movie, it inspired me. Pretty real, the mom was good B+ 4 stars
12/09/00 Marya Perfect! 5 stars
12/08/00 ashley uh........IT ROCKED! 5 stars
12/03/00 scott wahls my only complaint is that it WASN'T four hours long, thank you GOD, um, MR.CROWE 5 stars
11/24/00 shawk Superior 5 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head Along with Gladiator, this is one of the best movies of the year! 4 stars
11/11/00 spork-girl anyone who says this sucks is just heartless hellspawn 5 stars
10/31/00 kyle Over-rated. More Jerry Maquire than Singles. And what the fuck was that tiny dancer scene? 3 stars
10/26/00 Marc the most amazing film ever made 5 stars
10/23/00 Dan If you are a horney 15 year old you should like this crappy flick 1 stars
10/22/00 lindsey This was an excellent movie! 5 stars
10/21/00 Benji Graham Greatest fucking movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
10/16/00 monumentl sweet and tender, accurate and astringent...fabulous! 5 stars
10/10/00 PJ Beautiful perfromances, beautiful movie, I cried. 5 stars
10/10/00 Natasha I smile just thinking about how much I love this movie... 5 stars
10/10/00 Jay Excellent Bildungsroman, partially because it allows us to see more than 1 character grow 5 stars
10/09/00 TheBomb69 Awesome baby!!! 5 stars
10/07/00 Bob True beauty! Excellent! Hold me closer tiny dancer.... 5 stars
10/05/00 Bonnie This the absolute best movie of the year so far and it's totally hilarious. 5 stars
10/04/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble I lived through the '70's. Life was never this good, Believe me!!!! 1 stars
10/03/00 Marc A beautiful film that came straight from the heart! Kate Hudson will get Supporting Actress 5 stars
10/02/00 Alyssa After reading Erik the Movieman's coments, I could not agree more. It was wonderful!!! 5 stars
10/02/00 Image previous looked wacked..but when i saw the movie...it wuz juss PHUCKEN GREAT!!!! 5 stars
10/02/00 pigri i am in love with this movie. the "child-meets-world" theme is beautiful! 5 stars
9/25/00 Reeves Wow 5 stars
9/25/00 PJ Beautiful movie, Crudup, Lee, McDormand, Fugit, and Hudson shine, a classic, I fell in love 5 stars
9/25/00 Thor-Leo Best movie I've seen in months. Engaging, affecting, hilarious. 5 stars
9/24/00 The Rock A movie that is great in most areas. 5 stars
9/24/00 Chartsy Can it get any better than this? There's absolutely no way! 5 stars
9/24/00 Will Great acting all around, that was pretty great. 5 stars
9/24/00 Politicsman Cameron Crowe: Best Original Screenplay 5 stars
9/23/00 McSkeeter glorious 5 stars
9/23/00 Jenny-My-Fur this movie is incredible, a new classic is born 5 stars
9/23/00 Suzz great script; great performances 5 stars
9/19/00 Poetcdh Great Characters and music 5 stars
9/18/00 Michael Grimm Paul is a fucking moron, this movie rocks 5 stars
9/18/00 Paul If you are a moron then this movie is for you! 1 stars
9/17/00 Schlong Great all around. Crowe is incredible 5 stars
9/17/00 The Bomb 69 Crowe could not make a bad movie if he tried, worked on all levels 5 stars
9/16/00 Zeppelin Best movie of the year, so transcendantly uplifting & provoking. Kudos to Hudson & Crudup 5 stars
9/16/00 Justine Briggs Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit are going to major stars after this movie. Its fantastic. 5 stars
9/10/00 frank i'm speechless. CAMERON CROWE is the fuckin man. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Sep-2000 (R)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2001

UK
  N/A

Australia
  22-Feb-2001 (M)




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