I much like Adam Savage of the Mythbusters hate throwing around the term “perfect film” but there are two movies I can name without much wincing. The first being Raiders of The Lost Ark. The second is the film that set me down the path in life I currently follow: Almost Famous. No film have I watched more often, or sat more girls down to watch. Being released in 2000, I was 12 and really looking and reviewing at what made me. The music, the writing, the sincere nature of this film spoke to me on a level I can only assume the crazies say God speaks to them. I was am crazy about Almost Famous.
This film stars Patrick “Not too young for them” Fugit as William Miller, Billy “Golden God” Crudup as Russel Hammond, Frances “Boo Radley ain’t all that and a bag of chips” McDormand as William’s Mom, Kate “Lost me in 10 minutes, forget 10 days” Hudson as Penny Lane, Jason “Aziel the demon” Lee as Jeff Beb, Zooey “hubba hubba” Deschanel as William’s sister Anita, Philip Seymour “I wish he played in every film” Hoffman as Lester Bangs as well as a 70’s amount of weed in other awesomely talented actors.
Almost famous is written and directed by Cameron Crowe. This comedy-drama takes a slightly autobiographical approach to the coming of age story while following teen journalist William Miller as he goes on tour with fictional band Still Water for a piece he’s writing for Rolling Stone Magazine. While following the band young Miller gets pulled into the insane brotherhood that is music of the 1970’s; a world that Lester Bangs calls “the last death rattle of Rock ‘n Roll.” Miller gets involved in a “love” triangle with Penny Lane and Still Water’s incredible guitarist Russel Hammond.
What makes this film so special to me is William’s connection to music with his writing. He genuinely loves music. He’s not there to sh!t on people. He’s there because he can’t do anything else. Even having Lester Bangs tell him to stop and become a lawyer doesn’t detour William. He naively navigates the world of backstages and hotel parties while trying to write a piece about a band that just might love music as much as he does. His efforts are constantly being thwarted by Still Water’s inability to see past the immediate future and their own personal problems.
-The soundtrack. You want music? This is where music lives. With a soundtrack that boasts The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and even and entire EP by the fictional Still Water. A film about music should have stuff as powerful as this. I’m looking at you proposed Jimi Hendrix bio-pic to be done without his music.
-The acting. Hell. Jimmy Fallon does a fantastic job playing the role of the new manager the record label sends to help Still Water become more profitable. This might be the only film I enjoy Miss Kate Hudson in. The look in her eyes just screams for help. She’s a young woman who’s been hurt but knows how to control a room. However, much light should be shed on Patrick Fugit. This guy doesn’t work enough. In his first major role he knocks it out of the park. He looked so lost in a world he wanted nothing more than to be a part of.
-The pacing. This film is long in delivery but pulls all the emotions. You get it all. Hell you even get a guy who loses his V-card in an ORGY! The theatrical release sits at 122 minutes. However, there is the Director’s Cut also titled: Bootleg Edition packs in another 42 minutes making the total 164. The director’s cut of Almost Famous add much more music, band performances and added character development. Both are worth watching as they’re both well edited together.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
-Anita’s storyline. While a sub-plot to the overall narrative, I feel she should have had a small moment detailing her downward spiral as a stewardess of the skies and why she comes home for real.
Setting aside how much Almost Famous shaped me as a person, this truly is a phenomenal film. So rare is it that almost every character has defined needs, wants and reasons for their actions. Almost Famous is a film about love for life and what it’s about. This film finds the one person in the audience that isn’t getting off and gets them off. Filled to the brim with incredible scenes about love, music and growing-up in world where no one really wants responsibilityAlmost Famous is THE MOST VERIFIED AWESOME FILM.