Time: 122 mins.
Official Web Site
Won Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Hudson & McDormand) and Best Film Editing.
BOTTOM LINE: It's been a long time since I've seen a film, that I would pay to see again. I'm not generally a huge fan of Cameron Crowe's films. He definitely has a distinct voice and writes interesting characters, but he usually falls short in the execution. Maybe he just needed to get personal. By tapping into his own experiences he's created an enjoyable, funny, poignant film about the early days of rock and roll. Is it the best movie ever made? Probably not, but it's certainly the most well-written and entertaining one I've seen all year. A film that has great characters who are honest and believable, even though they're rock stars. Crowe gives the audience an amazing experience the chance to travel with an up-and-coming rock band and understand what it means to be "almost famous."
The audience shares these moments with the band through the eyes of a 15-year-old writer/fan William Miller, played with wide-eyed grace by newcomer Patrick Fugit. He's trying to fit into this very adult world of casual sex, booze and drugs, and it's not easy. His over-protective mother doesn't help. Most of the humor of the film stems from him being the outsider, "the enemy", as the band members from "Stillwater" good-naturedly call him. He may be young, but he's still a journalist, a person who can make or break this still struggling band. He's also a huge fan, which makes it a struggle for him. Despite repeated warnings by his mentor Lester Bangs (Hoffman), he begins to like the members of the band. A writer can't be honest and unmerciful when he cares about hurting his subjects' feelings.
It doesn't help that he's falling in love with one of the band's lovely female travelling companions. Penny Lane (Hudson) is the on-the-road girlfriend of lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Crudup). Penny considers herself and her female friends as muses more than groupies. They believe they help the band write and play wonderful music. She tries to convince William that she's OK with the way things are between herself and Russell. She knows it's just a road thing and that he has other responsibilities. It's all about the music and no one's going to get hurt. Though William looks up to Russell, and spends most of the film trying to get an interview with him, he loves Penny and is disgusted by the way he treats her. She's a special girl and Russell doesn't deserve her. Though the band befriends him by taking him along and giving him unlimited access, he discovers the limits of that friendship when he tries to tell the truth about what happened.