Almost Famous (2000)

almost famous poster 2000 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, Kate Hudson

Thinks more of itself than it really is

Movie Info

Movie Name: Almost Famous

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Genre(s): Drama/Comedy

Release Date(s):  September 8, 2000 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 13, 2000 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

almost famous lester bangs philip seymour hoffman

Kid…they’re going to eat you alive

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has had an unusual child.  He lost his father at a young age, but he also was raised by his eccentric controlling mother (Frances McDormand) who has her own thoughts on how children should grow up.  When William falls in love with music that his mother disapproves of, he befriends Creem editor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and dreams of being a rock critics.  Lester says rock is dead, but William’s chance to travel with the band Stillwater could be his big break with Rolling Stone.  William is going dive headfirst into Stillwater’s band, the divisions between Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee), and their “Band-Aids” led by Penny Lane (Kate Hudson)…but as Lester warns him, don’t become their friends.

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous is a comedy-drama loosely based on events experienced by Cameron Crowe as a writer for Creem and Rolling Stone.  The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Hudson) with nominations for Best Supporting Actress (McDormand), Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay.

There have been a lot of movies about rock bands, but generally it is about the band, their rise in fame, and their tumultuous break-up.  Almost Famous isn’t necessarily about the rise of a band as much as the rise of a rock critic and the band’s fans.  Taking a different approach, Almost Famous is good, but it also thinks too highly of itself.

almost famous penny lane kate hudson

Way to steal a movie, Penny

The movie is quite long (especially considering the Director’s “Bootleg Cut” which tacks on an extra forty minutes).  The length does help expand and develop the characters (in particular Crudup who could have easily been a “generic rock guy”), but it also feels a bit gratuitous.  The drama built in the often feels manufactured instead of natural (like the plane crash scene) and the character frequently give heavy-handed “deep” speeches that carry more weight in theory than they actually do in the film.  In the end, the movie kind of goes where you expect it to go though it sometimes takes a round-about way to get there.

What does propel the story is Kate Hudson as the magnetic Penny Lane (Based on Pennie Ann Trumbull) who really commands all of her scenes.  Despite being listed as a supporting actor, she’s the heart and soul of the story and overpowers Patrick Fugit who sometimes struggles with his role.  Billy Crudup and Jason Lee feel like band members, but that is because their characters are kind of stereotype hodgepodge amalgams of band tropes.  Frances McDormand is always strong as William’s mother who is both out of touch and completely in touch.  The film also has a lot of actors appearing in smaller roles including Zooey Deschanel, Fairuza Balk, Bijou Phillips, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jimmy Fallon, Rainn Wilson, Peter Frampton, Eric Stonestreet, and Kyle Gass.

almost famous ending patrick fugit billy crudup

Let’s do this for real

Almost Famous does get the feel and the madness of the time.  The tour busses, the hotels, the music, and the people surrounding it.  The atmosphere of the film is combined with some deft shooting that elevates the script and helps pave over some weaknesses.

Almost Famous isn’t my favorite movie, and I know people that like it a lot more than me.  I do like the movie in general, but I don’t think it was the greatest movie ever made.  It has its moments, and I’d rather rewatch Almost Famous than a lot of other movies.  The movie does feel like it comes off with some pretense that it doesn’t deserve to have…but come for Kate Hudson and enjoy her breakthrough role.  She was deserving of her Oscar and helped turn an average movie into a better movie.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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