Tag Archives: cameron crowe

Almost Famous

Almost Famous is 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe. It’s partially based on Cameron Crowe’s own experiences as a teenaged writer for Rolling Stone. Seems to me that Cameron Crowe is a bit of an overachiever. So I have a confession to make. I saw this movie for the first time a week ago. Every time someone has mentioned this movie, I smiled, nodded my head, and pretended to know what everyone was talking about. A good portion of my life has been a lie. I’m sorry.

But I’ve seen it now. It’s a pretty good movie. I understand why it’s still relevant fifteen years later. Almost Famous tells the story of William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit), a high school student who gets tasked with writing an article for Rolling Stone about a band called Stillwater. Stillwater might be a fictional band, but they still rock hard. William goes on tour with the band, while forming a friendship with Penny Lane (played by Kate Hudson in her breakout role), a groupie with a heart of gold, and an uneasy alliance with the various members of Stillwater.

It’s a coming of age story. William learns about life and love, he loses his virginity, and he finds himself. It’s a period piece set in 1973 but it doesn’t feel dated. It has a great soundtrack, filled with tons of real classic rock songs and pseudo classic rock songs written for the movie. It features the best use of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” ever put on film. The cast includes a bunch of A-listers before they were super famous like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Deschanel, Jimmy Fallon, and Rainn Wilson just to name a few.

The movie has a nice pace in the beginning, but it starts to drag along towards the end. It could have been thirty minutes shorter. They should have skipped most of the stuff that happens after they all sing “Tiny Dancer.” The plot fizzles out and loses momentum. It’s still good though. I would recommend that you watch it if you haven’t yet. Better late than never.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Jerry Maguire

When Tom Cruise isn’t making a fool of himself in interviews he makes movies. A few years back Tom Cruise starred as Jerry Maguire in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. It’s the best movie about a sports agent of all time, hands down. Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Renée Zellweger turn in supporting roles, and little Jonathon Lipnicki taught the world that the human head weighs eight pounds.

Jerry Maguire is a successful sports agent who feels that the business is getting out of hand. He writes a memo about how honesty and personal relationships are more important than money. His bosses think that money is important and Jerry gets fired.

Jerry decides to start his own sports agency. His only employee is Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger), a single mother who is inspired by Jerry’s memo. Jerry’s main investment is in Frank Cushman, the potential NFL #1 Draft Pick. His only other client is Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. On the night of the draft, Jerry finds out that his rival now represents Cushman, and Jerry is fucked.

Jerry hits a bit of a rut, breaks up with his fiancée and turns to Dorothy for comfort. He starts a relationship with her, but it’s complicated because she loves him, he doesn’t know if he loves her back, and she’s got a cute little kid that Jerry starts to love like a son.

Jerry invests all his time into helping Rod get a big contract. The two of them form a friendship, with Rod giving Jerry advice on marriage and love, and Jerry giving Rod advice on how to become a superstar.

By the end of the movie, Jerry is a happy and content family man. Rod gets his big contract. And you, the viewer, are happy for everyone.

Tom Cruise does a great job as Jerry Maguire. He’s a complex character; he’s incomplete but acts whole. He has good intentions but can’t always act on them. Cuba Gooding, Jr. elevates the film. Every scene with him interacting with Jerry is memorable. I have a feeling that Terrell Owens spent his career trying to be Rod Tidwell. Cuba won the Oscar for his performance and he celebrated by never making a decent movie again.

This was Renée Zellweger’s breakout role. And she actually looks good. In a lot of her movies she looks weird. She’s pretty, but she’s not Hollywood pretty. Jonathan Lipnicki plays Ray, Dorothy’s son. He’s a little scene-stealer. I want to punch him in the face though. Just to see what would happen.

Kelly Preston has a small role as Jerry’s fiancé. It’s a little bit of a stretch to pretend like she’s attracted to a homosexual scientologist, but she was able to pull it off. That’s acting (This is a very clever joke, because in real life she’s married to John Travolta, a scientologist who many believe to be a homosexual).

This movie came out in 1996 and people are still yelling, “Show me the money!” Shut the fuck up. This movie had a bunch of corny lines that people are still quoting: “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” are among the worst offenders. It’s a sign of a good movie when people constantly quote it.

Jerry Maguire is a good movie. It might be Tom Cruise’s best film. I don’t like Tom Cruise, so that’s a big compliment. There’s no denying that he’s a movie star. Jonathon Lipnicki might have been the cutest kid on the planet for a few short years. I still want to punch him in the face. This is a good movie, there’s sports for the guys and a love story for the girls, everyone wins.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

I’m trying to write a decent review of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but Phoebe Cates is demonstrating a blowjob on a carrot and I can’t concentrate. Goddamn, I miss the ‘80s.

Teen movies are a hit or miss. Fast Times is a hit. If you do a movie about high school right it stays relevant. Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) wrote the script and Amy Heckerling (Clueless) directs this teen comedy about a couple of students trying to survive the school year at Ridgemont High.

Like most high school movies, sex is what drives the plot. They portray sex as being something special, something common, something scary, something fun… It all depends on the character. Stacy is inexperienced and doesn’t want to be. Rat is inexperienced and wants to be. Mike is inexperienced and pretends he’s not. Linda is experienced but not by much.

Fast Times launched the careers of Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forrest Whitaker, Nicholas Cage, and Phoebe Cates. Sorry Shannon Elizabeth, but Phoebe Cates coming out of the pool is the sexiest teen movie scene ever. This is why cinema was invented. There is a decent amount of nudity in this movie. It’s unusual because it is a female director making a comedy geared towards teenage boys, and the two main female characters have nude scenes. They aren’t demeaning scenes, but it doesn’t do much for women empowerment.

Mike Damone is a great character. Kudos to Robert Romanus for his portrayal of the sleazy and cool Mike Damone. He seems so cool and confident, offering Rat pretty solid advice on talking to girls. He is a bookie and ticket scalper, and acts like a badass. But that’s just what it is: an act. He is just another confused high school kid trying to be more grownup than he is. He makes mistakes and doesn’t own up to them. He is an asshole to Stacy, but you still can’t hate him.

Brian Backer plays Rat, the naïve nice boy who just can’t win. He is the only character that stays true to himself. He likes Stacy, tries to woo her, has a chance and blows it, and he still doesn’t give up and gets her in the end. But he stays a virgin. That’s kind of a change of pace from most high school movies where they vow to pop their cherry and finally do.

Sean Penn plays Spicoli, the school stoner. He does typical movie stoner things like ordering a pizza to class (way before Zack Morris). He has his moments, like crashing Jefferson’s car and framing the rival school so he takes it out on them. Sean Penn is a good actor. Not in this movie. He plays a funny character, but he plays it extremely over the top. He is nonfunctional, an idiot. It is insulting to stoners. Go watch Harold and Kumar, those are real stoners, not stereotypes. I like Spicoli’s character, just not Penn’s portrayal of him.

This is a movie about high school students and high school. Fittingly there is an absence of parents. Stacy and Brad’s parents always seem to be out of town. Spicoli’s annoying brother relays messages from his parents to Spicoli. There are only a few adults shown, and they are mostly authority figures like managers or teachers. Mr. Hand is a great character. We all had a teacher like him: a strict hardass that you dislike at first and then grow to respect.

Even if you’ve never seen Fast Times, you have heard of it and see references to it all the time in popular media. The Phoebe Cates pool scene is heavily parodied. If you’ve ever called someone a “wuss,” that comes directly from Fast Times. A couple decades later, American Pie would bring us “MILF”. That is a legacy of a good teen movie: bringing new catchphrases to the world.

This is a classic teen movie, up there with Porky’s and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This movie came out thirty years ago, and high school kids are still relating to it. Just like they will in another thirty years.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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