Almost Famous
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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.