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Donovan's Almost Famous Review

Submitted by ryandonovan at 2000-12-11 01:27:31 EST
Rating: -0.5 on 3 ratings (3 reviews) (Review this item) (V)

DONOVAN’S ALMOST FAMOUS REVIEW

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Starring: Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Written By: Cameron Crowe

So, big-shot Cameron Crowe wants to tell us all about how he used to live it up with rock stars. He wrote and directed this semi-autobiography about his teenage days of writing for Rolling Stone, so he could let the world know how he used to pal around with Lynyrd Skynyrd and get naked with groupies and freebase with Jerry Garcia. Well, Mr. Crowe, you’re not the only one who’s partied with rockers. Let’s just say that I’ve been known to hang out backstage with Kid Rock. Oh, yeah. Me and Bob (that’s how well I know the Kid) getting stupid and live with bitches out back, hangin’ with Uncle Kracker and Joe C (God rest the soul of the four-foot man with the ten-foot dick).

Okay, so I was only backstage once. And I wasn’t invited. But we still hung out. I’ll never forget the sage words he bestowed upon me when I entered the room backstage: “Hey, you don’t have tits.” So maybe it wasn’t all I had hoped it would be. Hanging out with the Stone Cold Pimp of the Nation, I fully expected to shoot heroin, have unprotected sex with syphilis-carrying strippers, or at the very least throw down some 40’s. To my dismay, no drugs, no naked women, not even beer. Swear to god, Evian and Jolly Ranchers. Sure, there was some trim that had been coordinated out of the audience, but only one of them wound up on the bus to Indianapolis. Where you at Rock, where you at? Instead of being over here with a bad attitude ‘cuz he just didn’t care, he was over there asleep at 11 PM ‘cuz he had to get up early. Uncle Kracker? Getting crazy with some take-out chicken. And Joe C? Not even on the tour because he “didn’t really like to party.”

Well, my experience with fame was a bit disenchanting. Crowe also had some disenchanting experiences, but fortunately, he was able to learn some life lessons, and turn his stories into the very well-built film, Almost Famous. The only lesson I learned from my story was “Don’t lend $20 to Kid Rock.” Had Crowe not written the movie about his own life, the story would seem preposterous – a 15-year-old kid (played by film freshman Patrick Fugit) gets hired by Rolling Stone magazine, and tours with a band called Stillwater, making it big in the 70’s. Despite the plot’s seeming implausability, Crowe is able to play it out and make it very believable. It could have easily been about a bunch of guys in a band with no love for ho’s, getting play wherever play could be gotten, but it’s not (although I’d like to see that movie, too). In addition to an excellent screenplay, Crowe adds a couple more of his trademarks: an outstanding soundtrack, and the introduction of another pulse-quickening starlet (Kate Hudson takes the torch from Jerry Maguire’s Renee Zellweger).

While the film has lead characters, it benefits greatly from its strong supporting cast, which makes it feel more like an ensemble. Some parts of the casting puzzle, however, fit better than others. So I offer my thoughts on the human element…

Dirtball Billy Crudup, as the lead guitar for Stillwater, was replaceable at best. He was a little too vulnerable, wishy-washy, and devoid of character to play the “Golden God” rock star. And his teeth were too perfect. He will make a career of being an actor on the cusp of a breakthrough – a lifetime of being almost famous.

Kate Hudson, on the other hand, will have a very successful film career, despite inheriting genes from talentless Goldie Hawn. America’s current It Girl was incredibly crushable as Crudup’s number one fan. She was the angel of the young journalist’s journey, and did an excellent job showing the audience her cherub side and her harlot side, often simultaneously. The audience fell in love with her just as Fugit did, even before the scene where she flashed her boob. She’s probably the cutest crier ever (see also 200 Cigarettes); hell, she even looked pretty great after a Quaalude overdose and a stomach-pumping.

Patrick Fugit kept the film together by successfully playing the most important role, that of the 15-year-old journalist. Fugit’s character served as the touchstone in a world of flawed people who were loved because they were beautiful, and despite his age, was the only one who was quickly cured of his false sense of reality. Critics love this kid, but trust me, this is the end of his career. If you’ve seen him in interviews, you know that post-pubescence has already fucked with his wide-eyed boyish charm. He’s done. What’s that object that’s been stuck in him? Oh, it’s a fork.

Frances McDormand played the unengaging part of Fugit’s worrisome mother. I was unimpressed (and I’m usually a big fan), but she’s the only one from this film that has stirred up any real Oscar buzz.

Jason Lee gave a disappointing performance as the band’s second-banana singer. This from a man who’s played some of my favorite comedic roles (Chasing Amy, Mallrats). Whenever he spoke, it was like I just kept waiting for the punch line, which never came. Nevertheless, he remains one of my favorite actors, and bigger things will come for him. But please God, deliver him another Kevin Smith movie (word has it that he will reprise his Banky and Brodie roles in the forthcoming fifth and final New Jersey Trilogy film).

Philip Seymour Hoffman is easily the finest role-player today. He’s extremely underrated, and surpasses even Jason Lee on my list of favorite actors. He was once again fantastic, in the role of Fugit’s rock critic mentor. The guy is just so right for any role he wishes to play. He may never be big-time box office bankable (after nearly a decade of solid performances, he’s still “oh, that guy”), but in the very near future, he will be swimming in Oscar nominations.

Anna Paquin, the Once and Future Talented Actress, is broadening her horizons and expanding her image, so I’ll forgive her for this worthless part as a groupie. She’s got sparkplug charm and subtle beauty that make for a comforting and exciting image. She’s like your adorable younger half-sister that you occasionally have wet dreams about.

Fairuza Balk has become something of a seasoned veteran of playing coked-up Goth psychopaths. If she would just get her teeth fixed… well, she’d still be ugly.

If you liked Crowe’s previous films (Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire), you’ll probably like this one. Even if you didn’t like Jerry Maguire because you kept wishing Tom Cruise had a festering, grapefruit-sized, puss-oozing sore on his face, you will probably still enjoy this one. If you see Almost Famous, expect to come out with a smile on your face, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” in your head, and a hankering for Kate Hudson in your loins. And if you run into Kid Rock, tell him he owes me 20 bucks.



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