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Almost Famous

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Produced by Cameron Crowe
Ian Bryce
Written by Cameron Crowe
Starring Patrick Fugit
Billy Crudup
Kate Hudson
Frances McDormand
Jason Lee
Fairuza Balk
Anna Paquin
Noah Taylor
Zooey Deschanel
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Music by Nancy Wilson
Cinematography John Toll
Editing by Joe Hutshing
Saar Klein
Studio Vinyl Films
Distributed by US: DreamWorks
Non-USA: Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) September 13, 2000
Running time Theatrical cut
122 minutes
Extended cut
162 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Gross revenue $47,383,689[1]

Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and telling the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine while covering a rock band Stillwater, and his efforts to get his first cover story published. The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone.

The film is based on Crowe's experiences touring with rock bands The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In a Rolling Stone article, he talks about how he lost his virginity, fell in love, and met his heroes, experiences that are shared by William, the main character in the film.

Despite failing to break even, the film received positive reviews. It received four Oscar nominations, one of which led to an award to Crowe for his screenplay. It was also awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Roger Ebert hailed it the best film of the year. It also won two Golden Globes, for Best Picture and Kate Hudson won Best Supporting Actress.

Contents

Plot

In 1973, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand), wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister (Zooey Deschanel) leaves home.

William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. Bangs advises William to be honest and unmerciful, but fails to mention how to get into the show or meet the band. Without credentials or a ticket, William cannot get into the arena. He meets some semi-groupies who call themselves "Band-Aides": Estrella (Bijou Phillips), Polexia (Anna Paquin), Sapphire (Fairuza Balk) and their leader Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). The Band-Aides gain entrance to the show, but William is still barred from entry as the opening band, Stillwater, arrives late. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, they eventually bring William backstage after he verbally praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), takes a liking to William, partly because of William's friendship with Penny.

William goes with Penny to the "Riot House" – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William's chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship.

William is called by Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen), editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story for their magazine. William deepens his voice on the phone, as Ben believes William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he instructed to go on the road with them.

Aboard "Doris", the band's decrepit tour bus, ride Stillwater, a couple of their crew, the Band-Aides, and "the enemy", there to report what he sees and hears. On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist.

Russell receives an electric shock on stage in Phoenix, which infuriates their manager Dick Roswell (Noah Taylor), causing them to leave the show without finishing. In Topeka, Kansas, a t-shirt showing the band largely out of focus sparks an argument between Jeff and Russell. Russell and William leave, going to a teenage house party so Russell can be with people who are "real". Tripping on acid, Russell climbs onto the roof, screaming "I am a golden god!" and "I dig music... I'm on drugs!", before jumping into the pool. William calls Dick and Russell is persuaded to board the bus.

A new manager, Dennis (Jimmy Fallon), comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell's ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and beer. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.

Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell's girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on quaaludes. While trying to keep her awake, her he confesses his love for her, just before doctors burst open the door and pump her stomach. William and Penny spend the morning walking through the city, and Penny reveals her real name to him (a secret she has told very few). Penny thanks William for saving her and being her friend on the tour.

As they leave New York, Stillwater's plane is caught in poor weather and looks like it will crash. Believing they will die, the group confesses their secrets regarding their true feeling for one another. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere.

William must continue on to San Francisco to finish the story, and so he parts ways with the band in the airport. As he leaves, Russell tells him to write whatever he wants. Remembering Jeff's request to "make us look cool," William writes a story that the Rolling Stone editors dismiss as a "puff piece." William seeks advice from Bangs, who advises him to be "honest and unmerciful." Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors can't wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band denies everything, making William look like a liar and the entire story a fabrication. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.

Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny's near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person Sapphire is talking about, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknown to Russell, she gives him William's address in an attempt to solve the conflict between them. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny's, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William's story is true. The film ends as Russell finally gives William an interview.

Cast

Alternative versions

Along with the standard DVD version, Crowe compiled an alternative version called Untitled, which was a compilation of both released footage and his favorite deleted scenes. Running for about 40 minutes longer than the theatrical release, Untitled was subtitled "The Bootleg Cut", with its packaging resembling a cheap seventies bootleg. (A variant of Untitled is the basis of the network television version of Almost Famous.) The film has been released in Region 2 territories on Blu-ray Disc in its Untitled form, however these discs are region-free and will play in all Blu-Ray machines.

The DVD also contains a deleted scene that shows William playing Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven (in its entirety) to his mother. The song itself is not included on the soundtrack but the video has a watermark instructing viewers when to start the song.

Changes to the film

  • The hand in the opening titles writes "Untitled" instead of "Almost Famous".
  • Elaine berates a man for painting "Merry Xmas" on a storefront, saying "Xmas" is not a real word.
  • Young William is mocked in the school shower for his lack of pubic hair.
  • Bangs talks in more detail about The Guess Who and mentions a live version of "American Woman" from the band's Live at the Paramount.
  • Before cutting to the restaurant scene with Bangs, William and Lester stand on a street corner in silence, as Lester waits for a bus.
  • Before the first concert, Russell tells William how the littlest details in songs are the ones that people remember the most, citing a vocal sound in Marvin Gaye's "What's Happening, Brother?" as an example.
  • Anita's ex-boyfriend climbs through the window of her bedroom and reminisces to William about the sex that the couple had there.
  • Before he leaves for the Hyatt House, William is given a wad of 'gas money' by his mother.
  • Penny and William's arrival at the Hyatt House is heavily extended, featuring a longer section with Peter Frampton, as well as William being told to "blow me!" by comedian Lenny Bruce.
  • Before having sex in the ice room, Penny and Russell have a conversation about their failing relationship.
  • Stillwater attends a radio interview, hosted by a stoned DJ (Kyle Gass) who falls asleep mid-conversation. Band members argue and spout profanities on-air as the DJ snoozes.
  • An extra scene before Russell's electric shock shows William attempting to interview Stillwater's dimwitted bassist in the pouring rain. There is also a scene where William interviews the drummer who does not speak a word.
  • The backstage fight over the blurry t-shirt includes an added exchange in which Russell asks Jeff if he's on cocaine.
  • In addition to "Page, Plant...Mick, Keith", Jeff also mentions Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple when he gives examples of frontmen/guitarist songwriting teams.
  • A couple of lines were added to the scene in Aaron's bedroom, in which Russell gives his belt to a young admirer.
  • The scene after Russell jumps into the swimming pool is extended.
  • The band holds a birthday party for Penny Lane, where she first learns that she is not welcome on the airplane.
  • Upon exiting the band's car in New York, William's bag tears, spilling his (stolen) souvenirs from hotels all over the pavement. He is assisted in picking them up by Dick. This explains, in the regular cut, why William is holding a torn bag when he is confronted by superfan Vic.
  • After Penny Lane's recovery from her Quaalude overdose, she and William walk by the lake in Central Park. She proceeds to tell him her real name, and in the extended cut, says: "Keith Richards looked at me, pulled me on stage, he took me backstage, and gave me a Coke with ice and a lemon. And I never went home."
  • The scene where the band discusses what William wrote and how they want to deny it was extended.
  • A short scene is added near the end as Jeff and Russell talk their relationship through.

Soundtrack

The film's soundtrack features over 50 songs, making up an eclectic mix of period rock, other period genres, and some songs written by Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson, expressly for the film. Highlights include rarely licensed Led Zeppelin tracks, Simon & Garfunkel's "America", Elton John's "Tiny Dancer", and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years", Joni Mitchell's "River", The Beach Boys' "Feel Flows", and Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air". There is one slight anachronism: during a party scene the song "Burn" by Deep Purple plays in the background. The album was not released until February 1974, a half year after the events are supposed to have taken place. Another anachronism involves the albums left to William by his sister. When William first looks through the records, it is 1969, but some of the records weren't released that year, including Joni Mitchell's Blue & The Rolling Stones' Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, although that may have been an aesthetic choice on the part of Crowe, as the scene is representing the transition of time between 1969 and 1973.

Reaction

Almost Famous had its premiere at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival.[2] It was subsequently given a limited release on September 15, 2000 in 131 theaters where it grossed $2.3 million on its first weekend. It was given a wider release on September 22, 2000 in 1,193 theaters where it grossed $6.9 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $32.5 million in North America and $14.8 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $47.3, well below its $60 million budget.[3]

Critical reception

Almost Famous was very well-received by critics who gave it predominantly positive reviews. The film has an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 90 metascore on Metacritic.[4][5] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and praised it for being "funny and touching in so many different ways".[6] In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, "The movie's real pleasures are to be found not in its story but in its profusion of funny, offbeat scenes. It's the kind of picture that invites you to go back and savor your favorite moments like choice album cuts".[7] Time magazine's Richard Corliss praised the film's screenplay for "giving each character his reasons, making everyone in the emotional debate charming and compelling, creating fictional people who breathe in a story with an organic life".[8] In her review for the L.A. Weekly, Manohla Dargis wrote that "the film shimmers with the irresistible pleasures that define Hollywood at its best - it's polished like glass, funny, knowing and bright, and filled with characters whose lives are invariably sexier and more purposeful than our own".[9] Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "Not since A Hard Day's Night has a movie caught the thrumming exuberance of going where the music takes you".[10] In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote, "Character-driven, it relies on chemistry, camaraderie, a sharp eye for detail and good casting".[11] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, " Every Cameron Crowe film is, in one way or another, about romance, rock & roll, and his romance with rock & roll. This power ballad of a movie, from 2000, also happens to be Crowe's greatest (and most personal) film thanks to the golden gods of Stillwater and their biggest fan, Kate Hudson's incomparable Penny Lane."[12]

Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and Owen Gleiberman praised Crowe for depicting the 1970s as "an era that found its purpose in having no purpose. Crowe, staying close to his memories, has gotten it, for perhaps the first time, onto the screen".[13] In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan praised Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Lester Bangs: "Superbly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, more and more the most gifted and inspired character actor working in film, what could have been the cliched portrait of an older mentor who speaks the straight truth blossoms into a marvelous personality".[14] However, in his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris felt that "none of the non-musical components on the screen matched the excitement of the music. For whatever reason, too much of the dark side has been left out".[15] Desson Howe, in his review for the Washington Post, found it "very hard to see these long-haired kids as products of the 1970s instead of dressed up actors from the Seattle-Starbucks era. I couldn't help wondering how many of these performers had to buy a CD copy of the song and study it for the first time".[16]

Awards and nominations

References

  1. ^ a b "Almost Famous (2000)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=almostfamous.htm. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ Kehr, Dave (August 25, 2000). "Organic Growth In Toronto". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/25/movies/at-the-movies-organic-growth-in-toronto.html?scp=169&sq=%22Almost+Famous%22&st=nyt. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Almost Famous". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=almostfamous.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  4. ^ "Almost Famous (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/almost_famous/. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Almost Famous Reviews". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/almostfamous. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 15, 2000). "Almost Famous". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000915/REVIEWS/9150301/1023. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  7. ^ Scott, A.O (September 15, 2000). "Almost Famous". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/13/movies/film-review-with-sympathy-for-the-devil-a-rock-writer-finds-his-way.html?scp=162&sq=%22Almost+Famous%22&st=nyt. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  8. ^ Corliss, Richard (September 10, 2000). "Absolutely Fabulous". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,54413,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (September 21, 2000). "Gonna Make You Groove". L.A. Weekly. http://www.laweekly.com/2000-09-21/film-tv/gonna-make-you-groove. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  10. ^ Travers, Peter (December 10, 2000). "Almost Famous". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/5947895/review/5947896/almost_famous. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  11. ^ Ansen, David (September 18, 2000). "He's With The Band". Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/86148. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  12. ^ Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "The 100 Greatest Movies, Tv Shows, Albums, Books, Characters, Scenes, Episodes, Songs, Dresses, Music Videos, And Trends That Entertained Us Over The Past 10 Years". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  13. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (September 15, 2000). "Almost Famous". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,277502,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  14. ^ Turan, Kenneth (September 13, 2000). "Almost Famous". Los Angeles Times. http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-movie000912-1,0,6141798.story. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  15. ^ Sarris, Andrew (September 17, 2000). "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll-Where Are the Sex and Drugs?". The New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/node/43393. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  16. ^ Howe, Desson (September 22, 2000). "Almost Poignant". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/entertainment/movies/reviews/almostfamoushowe.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Almost Famous is a 2000 film about a fifteen-year-old boy who is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies it on their concert tour during the 1970s.

Directed and written by Cameron Crowe
Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don't fall for it.

Contents

Lester Bangs

  • You cannot make friends with the rock stars. That's what's important. If you're a rock journalist: first, you will never get paid much. But you will get free records from the record company. And they'll buy you drinks, you'll meet girls, they'll try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs... I know. It sounds great. But they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.
  • Great art is about guilt and longing and, you know, love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love.

Jeff Bebe

  • Show me any guy who ever said he didn't want to be popular, and I'll show you a scared guy. I've studied the entire history of music. Most of the time, the best stuff is the popular stuff. It's much safer to say popularity sucks, because that allows you to forgive yourself if you suck. And I don't forgive myself. Do you?

Penny Lane

  • We are not Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.

Elaine Miller

  • Look at this: an entire generation of Cinderellas and there's no slipper coming.

Dialogue

Lester Bangs: What, are you like the star of your school?
William: They hate me.
Lester Bangs: You'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.

William: [on the phone with his mother, Elaine] I'm fine! I'm fine! I'm flying back on Monday morning. I'll only miss one test. I'll make it up.
Russell: Tell her you're a slave to the groove. You can't help it!
William: [to Russell] No. [Russell reaches for the phone] No, Russell... Russell, no! [Russell grabs the phone.]
Russell: Hi, Mom, it's Russell Hammond! I play guitar in Stillwater. It's my fault. How does it feel to be the mother of the future of rock journalism?... Hello? [Elaine says nothing] You've got a great kid. Nothing to worry about. We're taking care of him. And you should come to a show some time — join the circus!
Elaine: Listen to me: your charm doesn't work on me. I'm onto you. Of course you like him.
Russell: Well, yeah.
Elaine: He worships you people! And that's fine with you, as long as he helps make you rich.
Russell: Rich? I don't think so—
Elaine: Listen to me. He's a smart, goodhearted, 15-year-old kid with infinite potential. This is not some apron-wearing mother you're talking to. I know about your Valhalla of decadence, and I shouldn't have let him go. He is not ready for your world of compromised values and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking clearly to you?
Russell: Yes, ma'am.
Elaine: If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession — which is law, something you may not value, but I do — you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone, and it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?
Russell: Uh, yes, ma'am.
Elaine: I didn't ask for this role, but I'll play it. Now go do your best. "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." Goethe said that. It's not too late for you to be a person of substance, Russell. Get my son home safely. You know, I'm glad we spoke. [hangs up on Russell, who is speechless]

William: I'm glad you were home.
Lester Bangs: I'm always home. I'm uncool.
William: Me, too.
Lester Bangs: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when you're uncool.

Russell: [calling out to William from a rooftop, overlooking a crowd surrounding a pool] And you can tell Rolling Stone magazine that my last words were... I'm on drugs!
[The crowd cheers.]
William : Russell! I think we should work on those last words!
Russell: I got it, I got it. This is better. Last words: I dig music. [A few people clap.] I'm on drugs! [The crowd cheers.]

Elaine: [on the phone] May I speak with William, please?
Sapphire: He's not here. He's still in the bar with the band. They just got back from the radio station. Is this Maryann with the pot?... Hello?
Elaine: No, this isn't Maryann with the pot. This is Elaine... his mother. Could you please give him a message? Could you tell him to call home immediately? And could you also tell him: I know what's going on.
Sapphire: All right. But I'm just going to say this, and I'm going to stand by it. You should be really proud of him. 'Cause I know men, and I'll bet you do, too. And he respects women, and he likes women, and let's just pause and appreciate a man like that. You created him out of thin air, and you raised him right, and we're all looking out for him. He's doing a great job, and don't worry: he's still a virgin. And that's more than I've ever said to my own parents. So there you go... This is the maid speaking, by the way.

Cast

External links

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