Almost Famous (2000) / Drama-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for language, drug content and brief nudity
Running Time: 122 min. (director's cut runs 162 min.)
Cast: Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee
Director: Cameron Crowe
Screenplay: Cameron Crowe
Review published March 22, 2001
It's hard to believe the budget for ALMOST FAMOUS was $60 million when you consider the fact that the film has no big name stars or special effects like SPACE COWBOYS, which had about the same budget. Perhaps it's even harder to believe that a film this good would only make half of its money back, especially in a year with a shortage of quality movies. Certainly some of that budget should have gone to better marketing, but I'll digress since it doesn't really bear on the substance of my feelings regarding the film.
This is the most personal of Cameron Crowe's films (director of JERRY MAGUIRE, SINGLES and SAY ANYTHING) because it's inspired by some personal experiences he had as a young aspiring rock critic while following The Allman Brothers back in the early 70s. In this fictional account, a 15 year old boy named William gets offered an opportunity to write a story for Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming rock band called Stillwater (actually he went to cover Black Sabbath, but never got the chance). As he follows the group on the tour, he is shown a life of decadence, with drugs and sex galore, but after being befriended by the members of the band (who make the geeky kid feel cool) he struggles with conflicted feelings of whether he should shade the negative aspects of the tour to not hurt this group he loves.
What is most striking about the film, and probably why it works to great success, is the feeling of authenticity in regard to the times and music of its era. At times feeling like a rockumentary, it's almost like you are there along with the band on the road. The lion's share of credit goes to writer-director Crowe for his vivid recollections and amalgamation of experiences to produce a very satisfying and entertaining film. Credit should also go to a quality cast of young actors, who portray their roles with three dimensional appeal. Honest, insightful, funny and touching...it's sure to be loved by classic rock fans best, but should also appeal to most due to it's fresh and witty writing.
I'm not sure where the bulk of the $60 million budget went, but one could hardly be disappointed with the results. Whatever money it costs to view it will most likely be considered money well spent.
©2001 Vince Leo