Lyons of WNBC
Hey Whore, how's
the whoring? According to this week's Quote Whore:
The Watcher is "a tense suspense thriller!"
In Bait "Jamie
Foxx gives a wonderful performance!"
Woman on Top
of the most delightful films of the year! Take someone you love!
Penelope Cruz is the next international star, who will evoke
memories of Audrey Hepburn!"
Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.
"About as entertaining as Foghat Live!"
I'm never going to write a story about the summer I spent
as a roadie for Jethro Tull for two reasons. First, Tull sucks
ass. Second, nobody wants to hear about it. If writer-director
Cameron Crowe was less in love with himself, he'd recognize the
same thing about his experiences with a shitty Lynyrd Skynyrd-type
band in "Almost Famous."
Patrick Fugit is William Miller, a dorky kid who discovers
rock and roll and starts writing for Rolling Stone at
the precious age of 15. He's good for his age, or so we're told
over and over. But let's face the truth here, any prick with
a pen and an ass to stick it up can write for Rolling Stone.
Fugit's first assignment is to write about a tour with Stillwater,
a band of longhaired rock star wannabes. It is on this neverending
journey that Fugit supposedly finds himself and the truth about
rock and roll. That is, it is repulsive and attractive at the
same time, sort of like the harelip at the Arvada Tavern.
On the road with Stillwater, Fugit falls in love with Kate
Hudson's Penny Lane, a slutty groupie in love with the band's
guitarist (Billy Crudup). He sees some warmth in her that I didn't.
He is welcomed into the inner circle of Stillwater, traveling
on their bus and plane. He has sex for the first time, saves
Hudson's life and pursues an interview with Crudup, the band's
most private member. Mostly, he stands around with his mouth
hanging open while cornball scenes of 70s excess play out.
"Almost Famous" is brilliant moviemaking for all
the people in their forties who bitch about today's music and
still listen to their shitty Pink Floyd records. It's great nostalgic
cinema for a time when rock and roll was at is worst and its
fans were at their most moronic.
For the rest of us, "Almost Famous" is fucking boring.
It's two hours of backstage scenes loosely tied together by cheap
plot devices. One thing I fucking hate is screenwriters who make
movies just so they can get characters to spout the writer's
thoughts. That goes on here, and the obviousness of it is painful.
Actors move from scene to scene, doing nothing but yammer philo-rock
nonsense, and instead of a plot the posturing is taped together
with horseshit contrivances that are supposed to give the story
Examples: The characters reveal the truth while they fear
their plane will crash. Of course, it doesn't. Shouldn't a good
writer be able to think of a better, less overused gimmick? Kate
Hudson swears she'll never tell Fugit her real name, and we're
expected to wonder what it is, and then be delighted when she
tells him. And guess what? It's a funny name! Isn't that fucking
Like a drunken uncle who corners you at Thanksgiving Dinner,
Crowe holds you captive for two hours with cute stories that
have no real endings. I wanted to get away, but Crowe finished
each vignette with, "Wait, wait, listen to this one."
In the mess, there are some good stories and ideas, but Crowe
is too enamored with all of them to save us the agony of hearing
The characters are obvious and flat. The rock stars are egotistical,
the groupies are free with sex (much unlike my groupies), the
mother is strict, the manager steals from the band. Hudson is
a seemingly tough groupie who turns out to be surprise,
And everyone has a selfless, loving revelation at the two-hour
mark. Those revelations might work if the characters mattered.
They don't, they're just mouthpieces for Crowe's nostalgia and
the story's conclusion is a weak attempt to appease anyone who
came expecting a story.
Fugit is an awkward little dweeb and not as good an actor
as the fat kid who played Plum #2 in the Arvada Playhouse's "The
Night Before Christmas". While he is entirely competent
at standing around, he struggles whenever he has to confront
another actor. Kate Hudson turns her groupie role into a juicy
ham sandwich, filled with eye-flitting tics, hazy smiles and
nothing else. Only Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Frances McDormand
are able to salvage their underwritten roles. Hoffman saves Lester
Bangs, a serious rock journalist, by stuffing him with more self-loathing
than I had the night I drank sixteen non-alcoholic beers before
realizing I wasn't drunk.
One thing the movie does well is recreate the early seventies.
Most rock-and-roll movies look like they were thought up by a
bunch of sixty-year-olds who dig Bobby Vinton and the word "dig",
but "Almost Famous" feels real and tangible. As fucking
awful as the music of the early 70s is, this is probably how
it felt and looked.
Two fingers for Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous".
It's bad, but not quite as bad as spending a summer with Tull.
P.S. You may not e-mail me to say you disagree with this review
if you own albums by any of the following: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin,
Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers.
P.P.S. Beware of movie critics who try telling you this movie
is "almost perfect". They're a bunch of classic rock-listening
dorks who think this movie somehow validates their early years
as fucking loser hacks with notebooks. Also beware critics who
say the movie is "almost perfect," or "almost
(insert superlative)." What an unimaginative bunch of asswipes.