In 1973, a 15-year-old novice music journalist goes on tour with a rising rock band. Writer-director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical rock 'n' roll drama stars Patrick Fugit as the fresh-faced scribe who has his eyes opened by the likes of Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Kate Hudson earned an Oscar nomination for her role as feckless groupie Penny Lane while Crowe took the golden gong for Best Original Screenplay.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Fifteen-year-old William Miller (Fugit) is living the teenage dream in 1974 San Diego. He has sold a rock article to Rolling Stone magazine and has succeeded in duping the editor into believing that he is an older more experienced journalist.
Rolling Stone send him on the road with Stillwater - a rising rock group - and challenge William to write an original and insightful article.
William rises to the challenge and steps onto the tour bus with excitement and trepidation.
His encounters with the lives of the band members, including lead singer Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) and charismatic lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), allow him to explore adulthood, loyalty, drugs and sex - and teach him what values really are important.
One of the most effective aspects of this semi-autobiographical film by Cameron Crowe is the relationship that the main character forms with Penny Lane (Hudson), a Band-Aid - the group of girls who hang around with the band because they love the music.
Newcomer Fugit is the perfect William Miller: baby-faced, slightly gawky, and an awe-struck observer.
This is a talent to watch and he has indeed done well for himself ¿ playing a major role opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Renee Zelwegger in White Oleander; and starring in Spun with Mena Suvari.
Kate Hudson is beautiful and headstrong yet endearingly naïve as Penny Lane, and Frances McDormand playing the neurotic and overprotective mother is unabashedly deserving of the sparkling critical raves that followed her performance.
Brad Pitt was originally chosen for the role, and he did the cinemagoing world a favour by turning it down. Instead of a beautiful, charismatic hunk playing the leader of fictional band Stillwater, we can watch the enigmatic, slightly nervous misfit - Billy Crudup - become 'almost famous'.
The movie was shot by Crowe himself based on his adventures as a teenage rock writer in the era of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles and Led Zeppelin.
He made Almost Famous as a tribute to all those who helped him in the industry - including his sceptical and over-protective mother!
The film does not overdo the sentimentality, although the wild, drug-abusing band members treat the kid with slightly too much respect to be believable.
Apart from their overly-nice relationship, the rest of the dynamics within the film are strong and lead the movie to a moving and inspirational ending.
It's pure pleasure. Not since A Hard Day's Night has a movie caught the thrumming exuberance of going where the music takes you.