Released in 2000, Almost Famous depicts a time when rock was untainted by the mass-market producers of today – before the big money, MTV, and diluted pop stars. It takes place when rock was still real and fathomable, one could touch it and feel it in their hearts. Almost Famous begins with the young William Miller (older William played by Patrick Fugit) who lives with his older sister, Anita (Zooey Deschanel), and widowed mother Elaine (Frances McDormand). William’s sister is fed up with their controlling mother and her abhorrence of rock music. Anita decides to leave for good and gives William her huge stack of rock albums. William is instantly taken with the albums and becomes a true rock lover.
As a teenager, William writes and submits several rock album reviews to a national rock magazine. Rolling Stone discovers his work and decides to offer him the chance to write a story on a band named Stillwater while traveling with them on their U.S. tour. William also meets a zany group of girls who call themselves “Band Aids.” They refuse to be called groupies because they are dedicated to one band only – Stillwater. The leader of the Band Aids is a young eccentric girl named Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), for which William falls head over heels. However, Penny is in love with the band’s lead guitarist, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup).
William is accepted by the band, but is often teasingly called “The Enemy” due to his being a rock critic. He has begun the ride that changes both his and the band members’ lives forever.
Almost Famous is loosely based on writer/director Cameron Crowe’s own younger days as a rock critic. Crowe’s writing and directing are superb. What unfolds before your eyes makes you nostalgic for the days of rock-yore. A bittersweet tale of rocker life, you are quickly sucked in and feel as though you are in the film yourself – riding along with the band on their jalopy bus.
The acting itself is impressive, especially scene-stealer Kate Hudson. The soundtrack is equally wonderful with artists such as Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Elton John and other rock greats. Songs in the film truly exemplify the feeling of the scenes. Scenes are beautifully filmed and each has a special moment to share – there was nothing out-of-place due to superb editing.
DVD extras include a making-of featurette, a music video for Sillwater’s song “Fever Dog,” and some of director Cameron Crowe’s articles for Rolling Stone. Film runtime is 123 minutes.
Patrick Fugit – William Miller
Frances McDormand – Elaine Miller
Zooey Deschanel – Anita Miller
Kate Hudson – Penny Lane
Billy Crudup – Russell Hammond
Jason Lee – Jeff Bebe
Anna Paquin – Polexia Aphrodisia
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Lester Bangs
Jimmy Fallon – Dennis Hope
Almost Famous, Dreamworks Video DVD, 2001