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August 14, 2020

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Movie review: Almost Famous

When the credits roll it might make you want to take a stroll down your own memory lane for a time that made you laugh, cry, and taught you a lot about life

Almost Famous
Will: So Russell, what do you love about music?
Russell: To begin with… everything.

ALMOST FAMOUS is the coming-of-age story of William Miller (PATRICK FUGIT), a 15-year old aspiring music journalist who goes on tour to cover an up-and-coming band for Rolling Stone magazine (note: Rolling Stone doesn’t know he’s 15). The film turns 20 years old this year, which is as good an excuse as any to pack up and hit the road with Stillwater.

Set in the early 70s, the film’s story is the semi-autobiographical account of its writer/director, CAMERON CROWE (SAY ANYTHING, JERRY MAGUIRE). CROWE draws on his real-life experience covering The Allman Brothers, Pearl Jam, and others to bring the fictional band Stillwater to life. 

The film features a wonderful ensemble of characters who are memorable despite their limited screen-time, including and especially Lester Bangs (PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN). Will Miller spends the bulk of the runtime caught between his admiration of Stillwater’s guitarist, Russell Hammond (BILLY CRUDUP), their #1 fan, Penny Lane (KATE HUDSON), and pleasing his strict mother (FRANCES MCDORMAND). 

The real standout of the film is its script, which Will Miller might call ‘incendiary.’ Packed with great one-liners and breezy enough to make you smile even when you want to cry, CROWE’s script rightfully won Best Writing at the 2001 Academy Awards. 

Of course, no film about music would be complete without a great soundtrack, and ALMOST FAMOUS does not disappoint. The film’s score crackles with era-appropriate music including SIMON & GARFUNKEL, LED ZEPPELIN, and JIMI HENDRIX, to mention a few. But these are all warm-ups for the main event, as the band sings along to TINY DANCER (ELTON JOHN) in what is quite possibly the film’s most famous scene.

The joy of ALMOST FAMOUS is that it looks back on the past with rose-colored glasses, betraying Lester Bang’s mantra (“be honest and unmerciful”). CROWE doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal, however; the film isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, the film is about a moment in rock and roll just before the other foot fell (the other foot, in this case, being the commercialization of rock music). 

Will Miller arrives for the death rattle, but his time on the road is formative. When the credits roll it might make you want to take a stroll down your own memory lane for a time that made you laugh, cry, and taught you a lot about life.

Rating: 5 out of a possible 5.

-Reviewed by Wilson

ALMOST FAMOUS is rated R for language, drug content, and brief nudity. 

Interested in watching this movie tonight? Here’s how:

Amazon

Open the Amazon streaming platform on your streaming service provider (such as Smart TV, Roku, computer)

Search for ALMOST FAMOUS in the search bar. Select the video.

Click “Rent Movie” in HD for $3.99

Showtime

Open the Showtime streaming platform on your streaming service provider (such as Smart TV, Roku, computer)

Search for ALMOST FAMOUS in the search bar. Select the video.

Press play.

Note: You can sign up for a free trial of Showtime through Amazon Prime. To do this, select “Start Free Trial” instead of “Rent Movie” and follow the Showtime instructions above to play the movie.

Google Play

Open the Google Play streaming platform on your streaming service provider (such as Smart TV, Roku, computer)

Search for ALMOST FAMOUS in the search bar. Select the video.

Click “Add Rental to library”

Meet our movie reviewer
“Wilson” is an alias for this reviewer, taken from Wilson the volleyball in CAST AWAY (2000). Wilson has been an avid movie watcher for more than a decade, with hundreds of movies viewed in that time ranging from classics of American cinema to international and independent features. Wilson’s writing is inspired by the film criticism of Roger Ebert. 

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