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"ALMOST FAMOUS"
(2000) (Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate Minor None Mild Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate Mild Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A teenage rock journalist finds his goals compromised while covering an early 1970s rock and roll band.
PLOT:
It's San Diego, 1973, and 15-year-old William Miller (PATRICK FUGIT) is a huge music fan, thanks to the collection of albums his older sister, Anita (ZOOEY DESCHANEL), left him when she suddenly left home several years earlier to be a stewardess. A budding music journalist, William eventually meets Lester Bangs (PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN), a legendary critic who warns William about the death of rock and roll and the lengths to which bands and promoters will go to in making sure that critics and reporters are happy so that they'll write positive stories about them and their music.

Although reluctant, Lester likes William's enthusiasm and thus assigns him to do a story on Black Sabbath. William's mother, Elaine (FRANCES McDORMAND), a college professor and restrictive parent, isn't crazy about the idea, but drops him off at the concert, making him promise that he won't do drugs.

Once there, William meets several groupies, including Sapphire (FAIRUZA BALK), Polexia (ANNA PAQUIN) and Penny Lane (KATE HUDSON), the latter of whom he's instantly smitten with. He also meets the up and coming band, Stillwater, consisting of lead guitarist Russell Hammond (BILLY CRUDUP), lead singer Jeff Bebe (JASON LEE), bass player Larry Fellows (MARK KOZELEK), drummer Ed Vallencourt (JOHN FEDEVICH) and their manager Dick Roswell (NOAH TAYLOR). As they're opening for Sabbath, they manage to get him backstage for their performance.

Although they consider him the enemy since they play for the fans and not the critics, the members of Stillwater like William's style and thus invite him along on their tour. With his mother reluctantly letting him go, and then getting a freelance assignment to write a story for Rolling Stone magazine, William travels across America with the band and witnesses the varied dynamics and dramatic conflict of the rock and roll lifestyle while on the road.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast, the films of director Cameron Crowe ("Jerry Maguire"), or rock and roll music of the early 1970s, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, drug content and brief nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • PATRICK FUGIT plays a smart and ambitious 15-year-old who gets a freelance assignment to do a story on a rock and roll band. As such, and with his mother's permission, he travels with a band across the country, witnessing their wild, party lifestyle. Although he doesn't participate in the drinking and drugs, he does apparently have sex with at least one and possibly three young groupies who've decided to deflower him.
  • FRANCES McDORMAND plays his strict college professor mother who reluctantly lets him travel with the band, although she repeatedly checks up on him and makes sure that he isn't doing drugs.
  • BILLY CRUDUP plays the band's charismatic lead guitarist who takes an older brother type liking to William, uses strong profanity, drinks, does some acid and cheats on his wife with a groupie whom he later discards like just another plaything. He does, however, eventually learn his lesson and becomes somewhat of a better person.
  • KATE HUDSON plays a confident and worldly groupie who sleeps with Russell and eventually learns how he really feels about her.
  • JASON LEE plays the band's lead guitarist who's often jealous of and angry with Russell. He also uses strong profanity.
  • ZOOEY DESCHANEL plays William's older sister who uses some strong profanity and suddenly moves out of the house when she no longer can deal with her mother's restrictive behavior.
  • PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN plays a legendary music critic who uses strong profanity, smokes and gives William some good professional advice.
  • NOAH TAYLOR plays the band's manager who uses some strong profanity.
  • FAIRUZA BALK and ANNA PAQUIN play two more groupies who apparently sleep with various characters.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is rated as extreme due to the use of at least 29 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some sexually related dialogue is present as is some brief nudity (bare breasts) and other scantly clad women, while various sexual encounters are suggested between band members and groupies, and one scene features three female groupies deciding it's time to deflower a 15-year-old virgin - and they're apparently successful.

    Those encounters display bad attitudes since most of the band members are cheating on their significant others while on tour and then treat their groupies as exchangeable playthings. Various characters drink and smoke, while some do drugs (and others talk about them) including the lead guitarist who gets high on acid and the main groupie who takes what's apparently an overdose of Quaaludes (and has to have her stomach pumped in a hotel room).

    Some tense family moments are present including that of a daughter/mother conflict where the 18-year-old daughter moves out, while violence consists of a band member accidentally receiving a severe electric shock and a bus purposefully driving through a locked fence. Meanwhile, some imitative behavior is present as are two scenes (including one onboard a small plane being tossed about by a storm) that may be a bit suspenseful to some viewers.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may wish to see it, we suggest that you more closely examine the detailed content listings in whatever categories are of concern to you.

    For those concerned with repetitive flashing of bright lights, some of that occurs in scenes featuring darkened stages illuminated by flashes of stage lights as well as during a thunderstorm.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In a scene set in 1969, Anita returns home, checking her breath before entering (presumably to see if she smells of alcohol or pot). Her mother, Elaine, confronts her about the Simon and Garfunkel album she's carrying, saying it's all about drugs (pointing to the musicians' eyes) and promiscuous sex.
  • Lester asks William if he takes drugs and the 15-year-old says that he doesn't. Lester then states that he used to take speed and cough syrup and then go on writing binges. He then tells William that rock stars will offer him all sorts of things, including drinks and drugs.
  • Outside a concert, a miscellaneous woman asks, "Are you looking to get high?" After Elaine drops off William at the concert, she yells out to him, "Don't do drugs," causing all of the young people going in to laugh and mockingly repeat that request.
  • Elaine tells William to call her if anyone's drunk and he then repeats her common mantra about not taking any drugs.
  • Various people, including many of the band members, drink at a party (Penny also has a beer in front of her), while one man inhales what's presumably pot.
  • We see Sapphire with some champagne. She answers the phone when Elaine calls and asks if it's Maryanne "with the pot."
  • Various people drink beer out by a pool, while we see others, including Penny, smoking and passing around a joint.
  • Another groupie with Penny tells William that she has some hydroponic pot (loud enough that his mother hears that over the phone).
  • Russell carries around a bottle of whiskey.
  • Some guys who are drinking in a car invite Russell and William to a party. There, other people drink and one person tells Russell that certain cups of beer have acid (LSD) in them. Russell then quickly downs such a cup and William tells him not to have any more. Moments later, we see Russell, rather high, standing on top of a roof, preparing to jump into a swimming pool below him. He then states to everyone that if doesn't make it, that his last words should be "I'm on drugs" (which causes all of the partygoers to cheer).
  • The next morning, Russell is still feeling the effects of that acid.
  • People have drinks at a reception and later we see Penny with a bottle of champagne.
  • People do more drinking.
  • People drink beer after a concert.
  • Russell, Dick and others drink while playing cards, while one guy inhales what's presumably pot.
  • The band members and others drink at dinner.
  • William finds Penny drinking and acting strangely. He then realizes that she's downed many Quaaludes and tries to keep her awake until help arrives.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Penny sits on a toilet in front of William and urinates, but we don't hear or see any bodily functions.
  • Two people put a tube down Penny's throat so that they can pump her stomach to remove the Quaaludes she took (she vomits in the bathtub, but we don't see or hear this in any sort of graphic or explicit manner).
  • We briefly hear & see William vomiting into a trash can (after a rough/harrowing plane flight), but don't hear or see anything explicit or graphic.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers will probably see the band's life on the road as decadent due to the parties, drug use and sex with groupies.
  • A bouncer won't let William into the concert he's been assigned to cover and tells him to go wait "with the other girls."
  • We learn that Russell and other band members cheat on their wives/girlfriends with the groupies that follow them on tour.
  • Russell and Dick sell and/or trade Penny and the other groupies to another band for money and a case of beer.
  • When it looks like their plane is going to crash during a bad storm, various band members confess to various things, with Jeff admitting to sleeping with Russell's wife in the past and their new manager admitting to striking someone with his car in a hit and run occurrence.
  • The band members lie to a fact checker and state that William's story is full of lies and/or is made up.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • William finds Penny drinking and acting strangely. He then realizes that she's downed many Quaaludes and tries to keep her awake until help arrives (when it does, they non-graphically make her swallow a hose so that they can pump her stomach).
  • William and the band find themselves on a small plane being tossed about by rough/severe turbulence during a thunderstorm.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "Please f*ck off," "F*ckheads," "You little sh*t," "Do you give a sh*t?" "Holy sh*t," "Laid" (sexual), "I sound like a d*ck," "Chicks" (women), "Hell yeah," "Sucks" (written on a T-shirt), "Freaked me out," "Pissed off" and "Shut up."
  • Although the story doesn't focus directly on them, it could inspire certain kids to become groupies and want to hang out/sleep with rock and rollers.
  • Penny often wears midriff-baring outfits.
  • Penny playfully gives "the finger" to a group of high school girls who are jogging down the road. In turn, they collectively give her the same. Later, and upset at Russell and his "do not disturb" sign, Russell repeatedly gives the finger to his closed door.
  • High from acid, Russell jumps from the top of a building into a swimming pool below it.
  • We see that Penny has taken many Quaaludes, in what may be a suicide attempt.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound of a loud clap of thunder might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • The song America has lyrics about "We smoked the last one an hour ago" (referring to a cigarette) while the guys spontaneously sing (in a restaurant) some lyrics from the "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," including "We take all kinds of pills that give us all kind of thrills."
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 29 "f" words, 6 "s" words, 1 slang term each using male and female genitals ("d*ck" and "p*ssy"), 1 slang term for sex ("laid"), 3 damns, 1 hell, 8 uses of "Oh my God," 4 of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see some women in bikinis.
  • Elaine confronts Anita about the Simon and Garfunkel album she's carrying, saying it's all about drugs and promiscuous sex.
  • Penny tells William that they're not groupies since those people sleep with rock stars just to be near someone famous. She then goes on to say "We don't have intercourse with these guys" and that they're there for the music. Someone then says that they're not there to exploit their bodies, but then adds that they'll perform "blow jobs" (on the band members).
  • William asks Penny if she and Russell have sex (he doesn't complete the question, but it's obvious what he's asking and she replies that they don't - although they apparently do).
  • Penny and Russell apparently have sex or heavily fool around in a hotel's ice machine room (we briefly see some obscure movement through a small window in the door to that room).
  • William drops by Russell's hotel room. Penny answers the door and we see Russell finishing putting on his pants in the background (no nudity but implied sex/fooling around between him and Penny).
  • Sapphire tells Elaine on the phone not to worry about William, that he's still a virgin.
  • One of the band members comments on some "tasty" high school girls who are jogging down the road.
  • Polexia announces (about William), "Let's deflower the kid."
  • We see part of the side of Penny's bare butt as she sits on a toilet (she walks into the bathroom where William is sitting and working in the dry bathtub - fully clothed -- and lowers her pants without any inhibitions, although it makes him embarrassed to be there). Polexia and two other girls then barge in to grab and deflower William. As such, we then see them taking off his shirt and dancing around him in their underwear in slow motion while he sits there on the bed looking bewildered. We also briefly see two of the girls kiss and then see the three around him, with one moving down toward his crotch (although we don't see anything). The scene ends there, but the next morning we see him in bed with Sapphire (suggesting he had sex with her and possibly the other girls as well). When a Rolling Stone editor then calls and asks how his story's going, William says that he's getting "good stuff" and the editor replies that it sounds like it (a sexual reference).
  • William hears Russell and Penny in a hotel room (suggesting that they're fooling around, but we don't hear anything explicit/graphic).
  • We briefly see Penny's bare breasts as she romps around in an open coat (with no shirt on below it) and then gets on top of Russell, while Polexia dances around in a nightgown in front of Jeff.
  • Russell says that the band did everything for Russell "but get you laid." When they see his reaction to that, they realize that he did have sex.
  • We see Penny in her underwear as her dress rides up on her while she's lying on the floor.
  • When it looks like their plane is going to crash during a bad storm, various band members confess to various things, including sleeping with others, Jeff admitting to sleeping with Russell's wife in the past and Ed stating that he's gay. Jeff then states (in front of Russell's wife) that Russell was sleeping with Penny.
  • Lester briefly states that love disguises sex and sex disguises love.
  • Sapphire states that the new groupies don't use birth control.
  • SMOKING
  • Dick and Lester smoke several times, while Sapphire smokes once, as do various band members, staffers at Rolling Stone and miscellaneous people at parties, etc.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Elaine's strict rules and nonconformist beliefs eventually cause Anita to move out (she's 18) after Anita states that she hates her.
  • William mentions that his father died of a heart attack sometime in the past.
  • Elaine worries about William while he's with the band on tour.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether artists and those promoting them attempt to influence reporters' stories about them.
  • The music of the early 1970s.
  • The sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle of some musicians and those who follow them.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Russell receives a strong electric jolt from an improperly grounded microphone during a concert.
  • Sapphire accidentally runs headfirst into the side of a building while running alongside a bus that then purposefully drives through a locked fence.
  • High on acid, Russell grabs William by the shirt and somewhat menacingly asks how he doesn't know the kid is a cop.



  • Reviewed September 16, 2000 / Posted September 22, 2000

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