Almost Famous celebrates landmark anniversary, remains famous

By Shaquille Galvan || Contributing Writer

Last Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. The film is a coming-of-age story that explores what it means to be “real,” a word that gets thrown around a lot throughout the film. Most of the story follows William (Patrick Fugit), a 15-year-old rock journalist, as he tries to get an interview with Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) for an article on Stillwater, a band on the rise to superstardom, that will be featured as the cover story for Rolling Stone. However, any attempt to actually get this interview done seems to be futile considering that Russell Hammond is always preoccupied with the rock and roll lifestyle.

William first developed his love for rock when his sister (played by Zooey Deschanel) leaves him a collection of classic rock records when she moves out of their mother’s overly-sheltered house. William’s mom (Frances McDormand) tries her hardest to set her kids up for success, and in a way she succeeds, even if it did not happen exactly how she planned. She had hoped that William would grow up to be a lawyer. She does not raise a lawyer, but instead something far better– she raises someone with character. In doing so, she has set up William to handle any obstacle that comes his way. He remains “real” while the people around him fantasize about reality, or even worse, pretend that they are somehow not connected to reality.

William gets his career started by writing music articles for various underground magazines, which he consistently sends copies of to fellow music lover and journalist, Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Bangs is impressed by William and decides to mentor him, allowing William to write for his magazine. This is what eventually lands Williams the opportunity to write a cover story for Rolling Stone on Stillwater. From then on, the dynamic character interactions take over the movie.

The band treats William as if he were another member of Stillwater. They genuinely seem to enjoy having him around. William is there when everything happens– from the awesome to the disgusting. However, when he finally submits his article about the band, they deny every bit of it. They fear seeming uncool to the public, while failing to realize that this honest portrayal of their band will be what resonates with fans and send them to stardom.

Speaking of fans, I must mention Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a groupie, or, as she prefers to be called, a “band aid” that William befriends. Penny is the movie’s emotional center, and the chemistry between her and William is excellent.  She presents herself as a free spirit. However, it eventually becomes apparent that her identity is tied too closely too Stillwater, which leads to her breaking point.

Ultimately, Almost Famous is an exciting journey with some interesting characters. It makes the fantasy of traveling with your favorite band a reality. Surprisingly, the story is actually a collage of various events from Cameron Crowe’s early career. The soundtrack rivals that of a Quentin Tarantino film, and the dialogue always delivers. If you haven’t seen Almost Famous, I would definitely recommend doing so.

Sophomore Shaquille Galvan is a contributing writer. His email is sgalvan@fandm.edu.

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