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Movie Reviews

Almost Famous  


William Miller (Patrick Fugit)
Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup)
Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee)
Penny Lane (Kate Hudson)
Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Mrs. Miller (Frances McDormand)
Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe

Rated R for language, drug content and brief nudity

Running Time: 122 minutes Distributed by Dreamworks
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Almost Famous is a great and touching movie from writer and director Cameron Crowe. The film takes place in 1973 and centers on the character of William Miller (Fugit), who is a 15-year-old writer that loves Rock-n-Roll. William surprisingly receives an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to go on the road and write an article on the hot new band Stillwater. Despite the feelings from his straight arrow mother (McDormand), William is soon on the road with the band. The star of the band is the lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Crudup), who has a slight problem of finding reality. The lead singer is Jeff Bebe (Lee), who has problems with Russell getting most of the credit for the band's work. There are also the "band-aids", who some would refer to as the groupies. The so-called leader of the "band-aids" is the free-spirited Penny Lane (Hudson), who catches the interest of William and becomes the one person he can connect with. While trying to interview and put together a good article for Rolling Stone, William is lead upon a journey of soul-searching, love and maturity that he will never forget.

I really loved Almost Famous, it is just a brilliant movie that is full of real-life experience and heart.

Writer-Director Cameron Crowe based the film and the character of William off of his experiences as a journalist. Crowe was a writer for Rolling Stone at 16 years old that traveled with bands like The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard and Led Zeppelin. He is a huge music lover that eventually became editor of Rolling Stone magazine. The script is one of the best to come out of Hollywood this year. It is completely original and very creative. Almost all of the characters are memorable and unforgettable. The plot points shyly surface and steadily pace the film. Crowe, who also wrote Say Anything and Jerry Maguire, always creates a story of ambition through touching and funny dialogue. Though most of the good lines in Almost Famous will not stick around like "You complete me" and "Show me the money" from Jerry Maguire, I found the script to have a few stand out lines. An example is when Russell is about to jump off a roof into a swimming pool and he say, "I am a golden god." I could also tell that Crowe got the most out of his cast of talented actors. Cameron Crowe is the reason that this movie is so good, because he is reliving through his past experiences. He has lived and been around all the incidents in the movie. I was once told that the best stories to write or tell are the ones from your own experience, which is the reason I believe Crowe's writing is so terrific.

Everyone in the cast of Almost Famous delivers pretty good acting. Billy Crudup, who is a very underrated actor, delivers a superb performance as the guitarist Russell Hammond. Hopefully this performance will open the door to stardom for Crudup, because he deserves it. What is interesting about the Russell Hammond character is that Crudup wasn't Crowe first choice for the role. Brad Pitt was originally attached to the role, but the studio could not pay him enough money, so Crowe cast Crudup. Jason Lee, who is usually anal and vulgar, delivers a steady and one of his best performances as lead singer Jeff Bebe. Kate Hudson delivers probably the female breakthrough performance of the year as the band-aid Penny Lane. Hudson has some skills and is definitely a star in the making. Newcomer Patrick Fugit was impressive with his first acting role as the film's central character William. Last but not least, Frances McDormand and Phillip Seymour Hoffman deliver dynamite performances as William's two mentors in the film. Remember some of these names come Oscar time.

Almost Famous is one of the best films of the year. It is a touching; funning and moral story that I believe audiences will flock too. This film has a good chance to receive a lot of Oscar nominations.

Report Card Grade: A

Beastman's Movie Reviews

Joseph C Tucker

Copyright, 2000 Joseph C. Tucker, reprinted with kind permission.

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