Metal My Movie - Almost Famous

Photo Credit: IMDb

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, I decided to rectify a blind spot viewing of mine and watch Almost Famous. Directed by Cameron Crowe, the film takes a focus on life on the road of a rock and roll band and their fans known as groupies. Audience views the film through the protagonist, a journalist writing an article for Rolling Stones magazine. From these two thematics we can see Almost Famous from a Metal perspective.

Maybe more of a PG version of the Netflix original film The Dirt, the biographical film about the Mötley Crüe, Almost Famous is loosely based on Crowe’s experience working for Rolling Stones magazine. The film explores the life on the road of a fictional rock band called Stillwater and how  ego plays a part in being in a band. For example, there is the ongoing ego riff between the lead singer Jeff (Jason Lee) and the lead guitarist Russell (Billy Crudup). There is also the relationship explored between Russell and one of the superfans  of the group, Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). It is when Russell’s wife enters the picture that their relationship becomes non-existent as he ignores Penny.

Just as Metal is sometimes seen as subversive to the times, Rock and Roll, at the time, was seen that way too.  Annita (Zooey Deschanel) was the original fan of rock and roll music in William’s (Patrick Fugit) life. She introduced him to the genre that his mother Elaine found subversive (Frances McDormand). I don’t know why anyone would find Simon and Garfukle’s Bookends subversive, but those were the days. Elaine emparts her concerned motherly advice of “Don’t do Drugs” and doesn’t trust the members of Stillwater around her son, even though she knows it’s been one of his life long dreams to follow a band he has idolized. Penny Lane draws influence from The Beatles for her pseudonym groupie name, this can be seen as the other side of the spectrum of band fandom. She lets William know that she is more than a groupie; she is a superfan.  

Maybe not all the rough edges of life on the road of a Metal band, but Crowe makes it a surreal experience of being on the road with a rock band in Almost Famous. It can be defined as a musical rock journey film if ever there was a sub genre. Nothing beats everyone coming together to belt out Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” on the tour bus. Crowe also  focuses on how rock was perceived as a subversive culture that had it’s superfans that would go to lengths to keep up with the culture. For myself, my parents did right by bringing me up with Simon and Garfunkel,  their music is timeless. This may be the best film Crowe has done in a while with Vanilla Sky being underrated and Aloha being critically panned. It seems that he put his heart and his soul into this film.

Next week Albert and David Maysle’s concert documentary Gimme Shelter celebrates an anniversary review and gets the Metal My Movie treatment. So what makes The Rolling Stones so Metal besides their longevity? Find out next week. Got any suggestions for a Metal My Movie segment then e-mail