“Almost Famous” Movie Review

“Almost Famous”

Netflix has recently added Almost Famous (2000) to its roster.  Cameron Crowe’s film about an aspiring high school-aged journalist writing for the Rolling Stone is funny and semi-autobiographical, as much of the story reflects the experience Crowe had while touring with big-name rock bands and writing for The Rolling Stone.  Its wit, spunkiness and story of following your dreams makes it a feel-good, coming-of-age film.

William Miller (Michael Angarano) is an aspiring journalist, and has an infatuation with rock music.  When he is given an assignment to write about an up-and-coming rock band for a Rolling Stone article, he joins Stillwater on tour.  William documents the ups and downs, capturing every moment with the band as they perform shows, building up their reputation.  His constant corresponding with journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) on payphones shows how important this project is to him, and despite his trepidation, William impresses himself with his endeavors.  While on tour with Stillwater, William meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and falls in love with her, along with the unpredictable rock and roll lifestyle thrown at him.

Other members of the cast include the talents of Jason Lee, Russell Hammond, Jimmy Fallon and even Zooey Deschanel gets some screentime.

The film’s soundtrack is phenomenal.   It is a great compilation of classic rock music that has yet to become too ubiquitous on the radio.  Almost Famous’ soundtrack was able to win a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Media.

Another accolade the film had received was an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.  The film was based on the experiences that director Crowe had himself.  Crowe had toured with The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Poco and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Crowe even wrote a Rolling Stone article himself, recalling his experiences on tour, which are very similar to William’s in the film.  With these real-life events of Crowe being incorporated into the film, it makes this film become even more tangible to its viewers as far as truly being able to accomplish your dreams.  http://www.rollingstone.com/contributor/cameron-crowe

The band Stillwater was actually indeed a band in real life from the 1970s that Crowe had interviewed for The Rolling Stone.  After reading the film’s script, they agreed to have their band’s name as part of it.

The acting in Almost Famous  is phenomenal.  Kate Hudson received a nomination from the Academy for Best Supporting Actress (which was slightly ironic, since she was originally considered for the roll of William’s older sister).  The four actors who played Stillwater in a film worked very hard in order to make it look like they were an actual band.  They rehearsed together four hours a night, five nights a week, for six weeks.

Throughout the film, several references to the Allman Brothers Band were made as well.   Easter eggs of the band include their music being played on the tourbus, their posters displayed throughout the film, and a ticket stub from one of their concerts is used as a prop in the opening scene.

Almost Famous also offers a great message for its viewers to take away with them once the credits roll. It is a coming of age film for the wannabe writers, and any part of the film  can be applicable for those striving to become great journalists.  So before it escapes Netflix, be sure to watch it.  As a writer, it’s a great movie to inspire you to chase your dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.  Experiencing your stories firsthand is an incomparable feeling and should not be taken for granted, if an opportunity like that ever comes your way.  However, I would probably discourage the insane amount of substance abuse some musicians engaged themselves in.

4 out of 5