Almost Famous (2000)

DailyView: Day 60, Movie 103

Next up on the DailyView was Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film, Almost Famous. Crowe worked as a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine while he was a teenager, and he was able to go on the road with many of his rock and roll idols. This inspired the story told in Almost Famous.

Teenage prodigy William Miller (Patrick Fugit),a writer with Creem magazine, had a chance to write an article for Rolling Stone magazine about the up-and-coming band Stillwater. In order to gain access to the band, William travelled on tour with Stillwater, getting close to guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). Lead singer Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) distrusted “The Enemy” -the rock journalists.

During the connection with Stillwater, William met Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a ‘band aid’, a more positive term for a groupie who followed the band around because she loved their music. Penny was having an affair with Russell, but befriended the young William.

As the band struggled with their interpersonal issues, William was learning about life in rock and roll, the ups and the downs and the world around him.

Almost Famous was a wonderful movie. It was a love letter to rock and roll as well as a coming of age story with a special twist. Patrick Fugit was sweet and innocent as William and he brought every ounce of that to the role. His chemistry with both Russell and Penny was a major strength of the film. William’s consistent attempt for the one-on-one interview with Russell, which kept getting interrupted or pushed off was a great hook for the relationship.

I loved the airplane/electrical storm scene. It was such an amazing sequence of events that brought all of the conflicts out into the open. There has been a history of rock stars dying in small plane crashes that when Russell starts singing Buddy Holly songs, it is both funny and poignant.

Another great band moment was the ‘Tiny Dancer’ moment upon the bus. There was the message that, no matter what troubles might be facing the group, the music is always what they have.

Frances McDormand was William’s over-protective mother Elaine, apparently based on Crowe’s own mother. McDormand was her normal brilliant self, infusing the character with more than just the stereotypical over-protective mother. She brought an intelligence and a humanity the role and created someone who you could tell loved her children more than anything.

Almost Famous was a truly enjoyable film with some of the best characters you will find, brought to life by skilled actors. The music is well designed and fit beautifully in the story.

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