Almost Famous

In Cameron Crowe’s genial, heartfelt, autobiographical 2000 movie, his protagonist (Patrick Fugit) ostensibly departs 1973 San Diego to pursue his destiny as a music journalist. Why does the kid embrace precisely that which his amusingly overprotective mother (excellent Frances McDormand) finds so abhorrent? Crowe doesn’t delve into such potentially revealing issues. Instead, Almost Famous is a fondly nostalgic and generally comic memoir—albeit fictionalized—that’s content to illustrate, not explain. Mentored by real-life rock critic Lester Bangs (grouchy, puckish Philip Seymour Hoffman), our Candide-like hero soon assembles an improvised family on the tour bus of up-and-coming band Stillwater. Members include singer Jason Lee, guitarist Billy Crudup, and groupie Kate Hudson—all united by their simple, idealistic love for music. But, Crowe warns us, that golden era of pre-corporate rock is about to end. Famous is largely an episodic road movie and a familiar coming-of-age flick, yet tinged with an elegiac tone not often heard from a Marshall stack. Call for showtimes. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Aug. 26-31, 2011

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