Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee, & Philip Seymour Hoffman
For additional information consult: www.imdb.com
What do I love about this movie? (besides re-quoting cool quotes)
To start with… everything… Having spent my formative years in the 1970’s, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a 70’s period film. I love re-experiencing the atmosphere, music, scenery, and attitudes of those times, but this gem of a movie has much more going for it than just being a period film. First of all, Crowe’s characters really come alive, perhaps due in part to the autobiographical nature of the film, but also because of the comic-poignant vignettes that give the viewer deep character insight while entertaining and moving the story forward. (Isn’t that a hallmark of great filmmaking?) In my opinion, this film’s ability to emotionally involve the viewer makes it the sort of story that one can watch over and over again, catching unseen nuances each time through.
The plot focuses on the character, William Miller, the director’s autobiographical counterpart, an intelligent and likeable kid, who is introduced to Rock-n-Roll music by his rebellious older sister (Zooey Deschanel) who gives him her record collection as she’s moving away to be free of their overly controlling mother (Frances McDormand). Patrick Fugit, a newcomer to movie acting, brings the perfect blend of naïveté and forthrightness to this role as he portrays the teenage version of Crowe. Writing for his school newspaper, the character, Miller, befriends rock critic, Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who gives him a writing assignment that lands him backstage amongst the roadies and band groupies. Here he meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) a self-styled groupie, who calls herself a “band aid,” and the members of the rock band, “Stillwater,” who are an opening act at the concert. As the story unfolds Fugit’s character ends up touring with Stillwater while he writes a story for Rolling Stone Magazine.
The core and beauty of this story is the innocent, voyeuristic, backstage pass for the viewers as we tour with an up-and-coming rock band, as seen through the eyes of a sheltered fifteen year old boy. As a music and movie fan, the highlights were watching William consult with Lester Bangs with regards to writing his story, all the while exploring notions of what it means to be “cool” and “un-cool,” seeing the “mid-level band struggle with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom,” and re-experiencing the feeling of first-love as seen through Fugit’s character as he falls for Penny Lane – all set to the backdrop of lots of 70’s rock music.
While describing her personal theory of groupie-ism to William, Penny Lane says, “If you ever get lonely…you just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Whenever I get lonely I just pop “Almost Famous” into my DVD player.