Almost Famous

Joe's Preview Review: An interesting looking preview about a young boy who gets the job of a lifetime as a roving reporter for Rolling Stone. Based on the experiences of writer/ director Cameron Crowe. Some good looking clips, a sort of expose of sorts into the rock lifestyle with the style of Boogie Nights. Lots of Oscar talk around this one.

Joe's Film Review: 

Almost Famous is a film from the eyes of a young boy who enters a dream landscape. William (Patrick Fugit) is a 15-year-old kid who is graduating high school because his strong willed, pushy mother enrolled into 1st grade a year early, then he skipped a grade.

When Will finds this out, freshman year in high school, he is not pleased. He's a now traumatized 11-year-old boy entering high school, years away from puberty. His mother stands on the point that he's a special child and that she has given him extra years to live his life. 

At this same time, his 18-year-old sister rebels against his mother and leaves the house. She gives her brother one gift, an outlet for his frustration, the unholy Rock 'n' Roll records that were at the center of the mother/ daughter strife. From this point on music would become a focal point of his life. 

3 years later, William is a musical commentator for his school newspaper. He confronts his idol at a local radio station, a writer at a leading underground music magazine named "Creem". This writer, Lester Bangs, assigns him a piece for his magazine and becomes a mentor for the very young and impressionable kid. 

Willie goes to a concert to cover the assignment where he meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), who professes herself as a muse to musicians or "band aid". Here he also meets the band Stillwater, and becomes friendly with them. 

Stillwater is a band on the rise that has one song starting to garner radio airplay. An interesting group of guys led by Lead Singer Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) and Lead Guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). Amazingly, William gets a job with "Rolling Stone" to tour with the band and write a piece about his travels. 

The remainder of the film is the kid following the trials and tribulations of the band, learning the ins and outs of music journalism, and finding out the truth behind stars. 

This semi autobiographical story of the film's writer/director Cameron Crowe is a superb vision portrayed prodigiously on screen with the feel of a classic rock biography, a 2 hour "Behind The Music" without the narrator. A film with great dialogue, good character development, nice structure, along with great 70's sets and accoutrements. I especially enjoyed the subtle references to bands and people of the time like David Bowie and Humble Pie, a band that Peter Frampton was a part of early in his career. Frampton has a cameo. My favorite one is about "a machine that can send a page to another place in only 18-19 minute", AKA an early, early version of what we mow call a fax machine. 

Patrick Fugit had the perfect style and look for the role of the susceptible young kid in a powerful but tough position at an early age. Frances McDormand is excellent as the overbearing single mother that brings him back to Earth no matter where he is at the time. 

Kate Hudson's sort of unattainable dream girl, in the vein of Marilyn Monroe, was perfectly suited for her beauty and acting talents. She's a mesmerizingly beautiful poster girl who happens to be a very talented actress. Of the current Hollywood beauties this is very rare. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of this talented young lady, who happened to be the daughter of that used to be beautiful old fogy Goldie Hawn. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was at the top of his game as usual. It doesn't matter what he's doing he's good. That's a sign of a truly talented actor. Phil will be around a while. For the big surprise of the movie I'd have to go with Billy Crudup with his remarkable portrayal of a musician on the brink rock stardom that has major conflicts with his band mates. His character is mostly made up of qualities from Peter Frampton, a man the director had a very close relationship with. Easily, the best performance of Crudup's also young and blooming career. 

Almost Famous is easily one of the best films of the year. Nothing detrimental can be said about the film in general. All positives: acting, directing, writing, and sets. I was not a fan of Cameron Crowe's last work, Jerry Maguire, but this film makes up for the flaws of that film.

Starring: Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, and Frances McDormand.

Written and Directed by: Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Say Anything)

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewed by: Joe Soria
Running Time: 122 minutes 
Rated R for nudity, drug use, and language.

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