This is the semi-autobiographical story of the director,
Cameron Crowe, who at the age of 15 started working as a reporter for Rolling
Stone. The year is 1972 and the cub reporter (Patrick Fugit) leaves
home to start travelling with an up-and-coming rock band. The band
members include Billy Crudup and Jason Lee. Also along for the ride
are some groupies (Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin et al.) who call themselves
band-aids. Waiting at home by the phone is Fugit's mother (Frances
McDormand). This film is fun but it's just your average coming of
age story without any surprises. It also seems to show life in 1972
with all the edges smoothed over. There's lots of sex, drugs, and
rock and roll but it's like an afterschool special. The rock stars
are really nice guys, ok, maybe just a little mixed up. The sex and
drugs are mostly off camera and don't impinge strongly on the movie.
Even when one of the characters overdoses, it's treated very lightly almost
as a joke as if she is just a bit drunk and will be fine in the morning.
There are several strong performances which allow Almost Famous
to rise above the conventional story. Frances McDormand, who has
an almost nothing ``mother'' role, does an amazing job with it and steals
scene after scene. She is very good. Kate Hudson is very impressive in
only her fourth film. Every once and a while she smiles at the camera and
you think she looks so familiar. She does. Her mother is Goldie Hawn.
I really love Jason Lee. He was great in Mumford
and is great again here. He always seems to be having so much fun
and that comes out on the screen. Billy Crudup, who is the star of this
movie and is also supposed to be a hot rising star, is kind of lost among
the other performances here. So is Patrick Fugit who doesn't project
much of anything as the young reporter on a joyride. Anna Paquin
(The Piano, X-Men)
is completely wasted as she stands around in the background with nothing
to do. I have to say that most reviewers seemed to like this film a whole
lot more than I did. And there are two performances, by McDormand
and Hudson, that will be up there for Oscar nominations so the movie may
be worth seeing just for them.