Almost Famous

Image retrieved from TMDb

There are lots of movies on my List of Shame. If it was released before the ‘60s, there’s a solid chance I haven’t seen it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it! So you can come here to read about my first experience with movies I feel like I should have probably watched by now. And this isn’t limited to older classics. If it’s a movie I’m interested in, but just happened to miss, Playing Catch-Up is the series where you can find my thoughts on it!

Continuing my search for 90s and 2000s movies that will become personal favorites, I decided to finally check out Almost Famous since it’s currently available on Prime Video. This is one I’ve been wanting to check out for a while and is probably the most high profile Frances McDormand movie I still hadn’t seen. A lot of times with List of Shame movies, the premise just isn’t that interesting to me, but it was here, which pushed it higher up on the watchlist. 

In short, I am extremely glad I finally watched it because I absolutely loved it. This is everything I want in a movie, from an engaging story, to memorable characters, to a setting I’m invested in, and a main theme that permeates every aspect of the film. 

The film follows William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a 15-year-old high school student in 1973, as he is given an assignment by Rolling Stone magazine to write a story about Stillwater, an up-and-coming rock band. William is a genius who is two years ahead in school and fell in love with rock music when his sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) left home to escape their overly strict mother. 

First off, I’m always thankful my household was never nearly as strict as the Miller household when I was growing up, but I am very familiar with the type of person that McDormand plays in this movie, trying to shield their children from everything that was considered “cool” at the time. And her kids, especially Anita, think that their mother hindering them from doing what is cool is keeping them from experiencing what is real. 

Right there is the center of what the entire movie is about: cool versus real. William knows he’s not that cool, yet his life’s biggest passion is the coolest thing out there — rock music. Meanwhile, he’s traveling with this band who is trying desperately to be cool at the expense of what is real. And he meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a self-proclaimed “band aid” who also travels with Stillwater and basically acts as a muse for Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), the band’s guitarist; and she thinks she understands what’s real while choosing to live a life of fakeness (actually unbeknownst to her).

The entire film is basically the varying ideologies interacting with each other until it comes to a beautiful conclusion. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed the movie, which gives me the impression that I need to go back and watch more of Cameron Crowe’s work. Almost Famous is so beautifully well done that I’m now yearning for another film with a similar feeling to it. What a special movie.

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