Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost Famous. B

Almost Famous is a pretty good movie, overrated, but still good. When it came out, people, especially critics, went crazy with it. But I think it may have had something to do with the fact that 2000 was a pretty terrible year for the movies. When something good is released amidst so much mediocrity, it suddenly looks like a masterpiece. I think that's the case with writer-director Cameron Crowe's highly personal drama. There's a lot of great things in the movie, which really is the story of Crowe's life. As I said, it's a personal movie for its director, and for Roger Ebert, too, who claims that this movie is essentially his own story (I guess anyone who was a teenaged journalist forty-fifty years ago will feel that way). This is definitely a free-spirited picture about doing what you believe is the most important thing in life. Zooey Deschanel sort of represents this attitude and then influences her younger brother with the same ideas. He's the main character in the movie, but unfortunately not a very interesting one. He's an aspiring writer who lands a job with Rolling Stone. They see one of his articles, like it, and ask for a 3000 word story for more money than this kid's ever seen. Rolling Stone unwisely hires the kid without actually meeting him, so they never know until the end that they're dealing with a fifteen year old. But the kid gets away with it and covers a band called Stillwater as they trek across America on tour. There are plenty of interesting characters along the way, including a devoted groupie named Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and the band's lead guitarist, played by the underrated Billy Crudup. And I loved Zooey Deschanel, despite the fact that her character only appears at the beginning and end of the story. The best thing about the movie is being able to see the dissection of a 70's rock band. We always see them from the outside and hear rumors about the inside. Almost Famous puts us not only in a front row seat but behind the scenes as well. And it does deftly blending humor and real human emotion. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as That Thing You Do, but it's undeniably a deeper film than that one, and also one of the better coming-of-age music films of this generation.

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