Movie Review: Almost Famous


“Hey—let’s deflower the kid.”

“Take a vacation from yourself—leave this to the professionals.”

This was one that I did a great disservice to in missing back in 2000. You can’t really blame me, though. It was middle school. You really think this sort of movie was on my radar?

So let me now make up for it by saying that I unequivocally love this movie. This Cameron Crowe flick is a tale of life in a decade gone by, growth and coming of age, and most importantly, music, and how that music related to the rest. It is a story of character above all else, and all of them are superbly rendered to such a degree that the movie itself breathes. It exudes life in every note, and you absolutely feel it. This movie is not a musical, but it is musical, in every vein. This is the story of a band on the road to fame and the personalities that accompany it along its journey—and the journey is magical.

It catches you in the waves of music and carries you to every bank of that rushing, twisting stream. Oh, and if you didn’t catch it from the language, there’s drugs. Lots of drugs. Seriously, though—the soundtrack alone is sheer perfection. I normally take until the end to give you my feelings on the soundtrack—but in this case, it is as key a piece of the movie as anything else, and it shines in a barrage of powerful classics.

This movie is equal parts hilarious and endearing—charmingly moving, and a delightfully offbeat brand of comic. It is witty without trying, the characters sexy for their definitively human quality. The chemistry between characters is undeniable. Everyone connects and builds off one another, and there are no weak links. The majestic, tragic, but breathtakingly sultry Peggy Lane (Kate Hudson, in an Oscar-nominated role), is especially entrancing. And the catalyst for our story, the young reporter, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), is marvelous. We sympathize with him, with all of them, with every maddening twist and turn that defines and consumes their lives. We grow with Fugit. His life is ours—the outsider looking in, drawn ever-deeper into the world of his dreams. As he is exposed and he changes, so do we.

And also, a shout-out to Philip Seymour Hoffman. Ever a great among the acting world, even in a respectfully minor role as Miller‘s traditional blunt but insightful mentor, he shines. A few lines spill volumes of personality.

For a fun game, you might also watch it and try to pick out all the younger versions of some of your modern favorites. Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee, and Jimmy Fallon all make the list.

This movie is also a captivating look into a decade long past—that magical world of the 70s, which so many of our more hippyish friends spend dreaming about. It takes the 70s and it captures them—flawlessly. Would it be cliche to describe this movie as a spectacular acid trip for the soul? It is crazed but beautiful, encapsulated in a drugged haze that is both alluring and endearing for all its wacky turns.

Perhaps this film doesn’t capture all the negative aspects of the decade in as critical a light as it could, but at its heart, this movie remains a captivating look at what was and it makes us feel good while it does it. You will want to watch this again and your favorite scenes will stick with you. Even in its dark moments, it touches us—in a way that few movies can.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

~ by Chris G. on March 1, 2010.

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