CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

2000 Review: "Almost Famous" A Coming-of-Age Moral about 70's ROCK

One odd fact about being famous, more people know about you than you know about them. While it's great to be appreciated, sometimes it is more fun to be "Almost Famous." Writer/Director Cameron Crowe has created a fun and unpretentious movie that looks at the different perceptions of fame and an individual's code of honor.

Young Will comes from a peculiar household in San Diego, circa 1969. His widowed academic-minded mother (Frances McDormand) is in conflict with her rebellious daughter, who decides to run away from home. Four years later Will (Patrick Fugit) is now a 15 year old High School Senior awaiting graduation. Will has developed a passion for the ultra cool world of Rock.

Through his writing in the high school and underground newspapers, Will is mentored by Lester (Philip Seymour Hoffman.) Will brokers a deal with "Rolling Stone" magazine to write an article about a soon-to-be-famous band, Stillwater. The 15 year old prodigy travels across the country and utilizes his moral compass to navigate through the world of sex, drugs and rock & roll. Along the way, Will makes friends with groupie nymph Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and band member Russell
Hammond (Billy Crudup.)

"Almost Famous" is a good motion picture that works on many levels. On one hand this is a simple rock & road
flick. Upon closer look this motion picture provides a thoughtful discussion on the nature of keeping alive
the fantasy of the Rock culture, despite the potential for self destruction.

Crowe does a masterful job not boring the audience with academic discussion. Instead he lets actions speak louder than dialog. One climatic scene involving drug abuse is cross edited with Will's high school graduation. Crowe also has a handle on the artifacts of the past, such as the use of an Eastern Airlines and the electronic mojo machine for document
transference over telephone lines.

The ensemble of actors are excellent and each actor is given the cinematography to shine. Upon hearing distressing news, Kate Hudson has a close-up where she expresses a range of emotions from shock, pain, vulnerability and then quiet self assurance. Cruddup as Russell has the most charismatic role in the film and brings forth the dual nature of the character,
from a nice guy artist to his last scene where he resembles Charles Manson. Frances McDormand is likely to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her small but memorable role. Even when she is not in the scene, her maternal presence reverberates through every scene. It is Fugit's performance that holds this picture together, he is a naive and
likable outsider.

The "Almost Famous" marketing campaign is being targeted for the age group that best remembers the early 1970's. Nancy Wilson of "Heart" (and Crowe's wife) provides a musical score that evokes 1973 with Musical Artists Elton John and Led Zepplin. Hopefully the audience will expand for this unique and entertaining motion picture. "Almost Famous" delivers
a realistic fable in a warmhearted and humorous way.

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