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Synopsis

A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour.

MovieGuy Review

I've always been a big fan of this movie...a beautiful love story. But, not the kind of love story you would expect. This is the love story between Cameron Crowe (the film's writer/director) and Rock-and-Roll music. As many of you probably know, this movie is mostly autobiographical. The young lead of William Miller (played by then newcomer Patrick Fugit) is supposed to be a portrayal of young Cameron Crowe when he wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine at the ripe old age of 15 (or 16). While there are some romantic sparks flying between various characters in this movie, the real love story is Cameron's love for Rock-and-Roll music and he does a terrific job of conveying that love to the audience.

When this film was made, Crowe was still married to rocker Nancy Wilson from the rock band "Heart". Reportedly, they co-wrote several of the songs that were performed by the movie's fictitious band "Stillwater". Not only were these originals hauntingly reminiscent of 1970s rock music, the "Almost Famous" team did a great job of putting together an amazing soundtrack for the film. In fact, the soundtrack is so great that it really becomes one of the lead characters in the movie. For those who have already seen this movie, who doesn't LOVE the scene in the tour bus when a tense band slowly starts to sing along to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" playing on the bus radio. It's one of my favorite parts of the movie. The music in this film effectively transports you to a time when rock music was less produced and didn't get it's start on a reality TV music competition show.

The cast in this movie, similar to Crowe's previous hit "Jerry Maguire, was amazing and at least some of the credit needs to go to Casting Director Gail Levin. It seems that these two love to collaborate, as Levin appears as Casting Director on most of Crowe's projects. My hat is off to Gail and Cameron because they once again brought a collection of performers together that transform the silver screen into 2+ hours of pure entertainment and enjoyment. There are so many performances worth mentioning, but at the top of the list is Patrick Fugit as Crowe's alter ego William Miller. Patrick may have been brand new to acting when this movie was made, but his fresh face and on screen innocence is so palpable that you almost instantly believe he is that 15-yr-old music geek that somehow falls backward into this mesmerizing world of 70s rock. His muse "Penny Lane" (performed by the uber talented Kate Hudson) is the glue that holds this story together. In fact, as muse, she is pulling double duty as she attempts to inspire the onscreen rocker "Russell Hammond", played by a very youthful and charismatic Billy Crudup. Fugit, Hudson (nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year) and Crudup serve as the onscreen trinity that this film's story revolves around, and they do a good enough job to keep you interested from start to finish.

Because of the powerful ensemble cast that supports this story, I want to mention as many of them as possible: the ever-awe-inspiring Frances McDormand (also nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year), Philip Seymour Hoffman, the pixie-like Zooey Deschanel, the scene stealing Jason Lee (he was so convincing as Stillwater's lead singer that I would buy tickets to his show anytime), Noah Taylor, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Jimmy Fallon, Bijou Phillips, Terry Chen, Rainn Wilson, a very young Jay Baruchel (before he was corrupted by Rogen and Goldberg, haha) and a young Eric Stonestreet of TV's "Modern Family".

While this movie didn't do so great at the box office, it has since become quite the cult classic and is one that I have in my personal collection and I find myself watching it every year or two. Crowe did bag the "Best Original Screenplay" Oscar that year, but the other three Oscar noms came up short. Still, this movie is definitely one of my favorites and if you haven't seen it, please make the time to do so. As long as you love rock-and-roll, I think you'll have an awesome experience. Even if you have seen it and it's been a while, take the time to watch it again. I personally think it gets a little better every time I watch it.

I give this movie 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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