Cameron Crowe's love song to rock'n'roll is like a laid-back Jerry Maguire without the soundbites. Rating: 8 out of 10.
201-Words-or-Less Film Review
Cameron Crowe, known best as writer of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and writer/director of Jerry Maguire and Say Anything, returns to his roots with this story of a 15-year-old aspiring journalist who goes on the road with an almost famous rock band (the fictitious Stillwater). Patrick Fugit stars as William Miller, essentially a stand-in for the young Crowe, who gets his first real taste of life (and love, thanks to Stillwater’s ‘Band Aids’—don’t call them groupies).
It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but it is difficult to convey the innocence, wonder, and quiet joy with which Cameron instills the entire project. It is clearly a labor of love. This film yielded Oscar nominations for Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, head Band Aid, and Frances McDormand, as William’s unconventional mother, and several other performances could well have been on that list.
The best, most beguiling thing is how Crowe manages to nearly completely avoid the requisite coming-of-age movie clichés. Viewers fond of fast, furious-paced films long on pyrotechnics and short on character nuance will be lost (or asleep) in this one, but for the rest of us, this is a real treat. Oh yeah, the music isn’t bad, either.
Year: 2000 Director: Cameron Crowe Running Time: 122 minutes (director's cut: 162 minutes) Rated R by the MPAA for "language, drug content, and brief nudity," but most of that is handled so gently you hardly notice it. The director's cut contains nothing to change the surprisingly innocent tone.