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Almost Famous

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

The perfect movie.

For everyone who spent their adolescence playing air guitar to Lynard Skynard's 'Freebird' (which is infinitely cooler than the next generation's habit of playing air synthesizer to A-Ha's 'Take On Me'): has Cameron Crowe got a movie for you.

The man who made sports agents seem human in Jerry Maguire brings us Almost Famous, about a fictional 70's rock band that uses way too many drugs, cheats on all of their girlfriends while on the road and ends up being the perfect role model for an impressionable fifteen year-old.

Almost Famous stars...uhm.. hold on, I know this one. Billy Crudup. Kate Hudson. Patrick Fugit. Whatever. Doesn't matter. They're all great. Every one.

The story is about young William Miller who, at the tender age of fifteen, is hired by Rolling Stone magazine (who don't realize he's only fifteen) to write a story about an up and coming rock band, Stillwater. So he goes on tour. And life ensues. He falls in love with a Band Aid (the politically-correct term for a groupie, not a Johnson and Johnson boo-boo strip), watches the band try to tear itself apart, and continues to call his mother, who really thinks he should be home, and if he isn't well then he should make sure he doesn't take any drugs.

The really scary thing about this movie is that it's all based on Cameron Crowe's life. He was the young high-schooler who ended up on tour with a major rock band in the early seventies while writing for Rolling Stone. And while all names and events have been changed to protect the innocent rock and rollers, pretty much everything that transpires in the film is based on something that happened. Which really reaffirms your faith in Rock Music.

This movie is more than a movie, it is a documentary. A true-to-life look inside the world of seventies rock. Stillwater may never have existed, but their spirit, their drive, and their kick-ass tunes reverberate off the screen. The performance scenes are engrossing, with Stillwater putting on a better show than most acts you could catch these days. And they don't even have any synchronized dance moves!

Watching Almost Famous, you can't help but wonder what the nostalgic rock movie will be like in another twenty years. Some teeny-bopper on tour with a fictional boy band barely old enough to shave dealing with out-of-control fashion, exotic choreography and pre-pubescent groupies who have to be home by nine. Call it Almost Lame.

While everyone in the cast is great. A few people are more than great. Uber-great. Billy Crudup as lead guitarist Russell Hammond creates the most wonderfully complex yet simplistic rock star this side of Britney Spears. Kate Hudson as the Band Aid involved with Russell, yet loved by William is a stunning portrait of what being a rock and roll groupie in the seventies was all about. Frances McDormand as William's mother steals every scene she is in with her honesty and integrity. She's against William going on this trip, and could easily have been portrayed as a stereotypical hysterical mother figure, but instead becomes a wonderfully motivated mother, complete with the classic realization, "Rock stars have kidnapped my son."

Special mention must also be given to Philip Seymour Hoffman (when isn't this guy worthy of special mention?), who is moving and amusing as rock critic Lester Bangs, who helps open the door to William's future while reminding him that he's not cool.

Is it really the prefect movie? Well, it doesn't have a Jedi Knight in it, nor does it have a cute pig, so it's not absolutely perfect, but it definitely becomes the front runner for Best Picture of 2000. Now if Crowe had really wanted to make the perfect movie, he could have had a Jedi Knight rock out at one of the band's concerts or have the band adopt a cute pig while on tour. Either would have made the film perfect.

Lacking those elements, Almost Famous ends up with 4 2/3 Babylons. Go see this movie. You'll thank me for it later.

Editor's Note:

Am I the only one who thinks that the SMC should only see bad movies, since they make better reviews? You'll be glad to know that he makes the same number of spelling and grammatical errors whether or not the movie is good or bad.

Almost Famous
Rated: R
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Philip Seymour Hoffman and love, baby, love.

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