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Overall Rating
4.28

Awesome60.08%
Worth A Look: 21.01%
Average: 10.92%
Pretty Bad: 2.52%
Total Crap: 5.46%

15 reviews, 148 user ratings


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Almost Famous
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Entirely overrated, though I haven't seen the extended cut."
3 stars

"Be honest and unmerciful," says the revered rock critic Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to the budding 15-year-old writer William Miller (Patrick Fugit) near the beginning of 'Almost Famous.' That's sound advice; it's too bad more movie critics didn't follow it when approaching this film.

Perhaps it's no mystery: Almost Famous, an amiably autobiographical film by Cameron Crowe (Say Anything..., Singles, Jerry Maguire), is nothing if not a valentine to critics -- flattery of their innocence and integrity in the face of self-promoting rock bands, actors, or movie directors. If Lester Bangs had covered movies instead of music and had lived to see this one, he would've known what to make of it.

It needs to be said that Almost Famous is by no means a bad film -- just a middling, loudly overpraised one (it was heralded as Cameron Crowe's epic or masterpiece, or something). The movie, as you may have heard, is based on Crowe's own experiences as a teen rock journalist in the early '70s, writing for Rolling Stone and meeting the rock gods of the day. Crowe's onscreen surrogate is William, who squirms away from his well-meaning but overprotective mom (Frances McDormand, never once allowing her role to devolve into a stereotype) and spends some time on the road with an emerging, nothing-special band called Stillwater.

The wide-eyed William (whose portrayer, Patrick Fugit, must have been cast for his whitebread inoffensiveness to most demographics) is a more or less passive observer as the band members taste a few drops of fame -- they're opening for Black Sabbath -- but are always on the verge of splitting up. The tipping point comes when the band's t-shirt design favors Stillwater's guitarist (Billy Crudup) over its lead singer (Jason Lee). Crowe may have actually witnessed such inane backstage hissy fits in his day, but unfortunately for him, the mock-rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap scooped him on the absurdity of rock egos by about fifteen years.

Almost Famous isn't only about that, though -- it's also about maintaining one's purity in the face of temptation: sex, drugs, fame, adulation. William hangs out a lot with a Stillwater hanger-on, a girl calling herself Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), who leads a pack of groupies who delude themselves that they aren't groupies. I got a little restless as the familiar plot mechanics kicked into gear, setting up Penny as William's first great love, who is drawn to the bad-boy excitement of rock stars but longs for a sweet, tender boy like William. And, by extension, like Crowe. And, by further extension, like the critics he's flattering. Yes, movie critics, that sexy blonde may lust after bad boys, but deep down she's really waiting for you.

As an admirer of Crowe's earlier films, I was more than eager to see this one, but Almost Famous lacks dramatic focus. Crowe's gentleness as a writer, so warming and refreshing in his romantic comedies, doesn't help him much in this chaotic, post-Altamont rock milieu. In part, the movie is a love letter to Crowe's remarkable adolescence, and I can accept that. But he softens just about everything, as if he didn't want to hurt the feelings of anyone he knew back then. Autobiography shackles him; he has more freedom with characters he creates out of whole cloth. Penny Lane, for instance, is seen entirely through a gauze of affectionate memory, and Kate Hudson's glimmer of adorableness dims after about half an hour; Hudson may be quirky enough to do something more interesting than this, but the evidence isn't here.

On the road, William keeps calling his mentor, Lester Bangs, who advises him to ward off the fake friendship musicians use to suck in journalists. (Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his few minutes as Bangs, gives the movie some badly needed jolts of complexity and tension.) Almost Famous is a form of fake friendship, too; it wants us to believe we've been there with Crowe and shared a moment, but it offers little more insight than a typical Ron Howard film.

Here's a movie about a nice young man who meets a bunch of mostly nice people (even the jerks are basically harmless) and has nice adventures. The entire enterprise is too nice, too looking-back-fondly, too willing to let its characters and its audience off the hook. "Almost Famous" doesn't pretend to be journalism, but it could've used a little more Lester Bangs in its soul.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3454&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/30/06 11:38:30
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User Comments

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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