Sunday, April 24, 2016

Almost Walked.

I was just listening to Adam Carolla interview Marc Maron, and Aceman opined that "Almost Famous" (which Maron apparently appears in, though I have no recollection of this) is one of those movies that is universally beloved. I disagree, so I was compelled to dig up an old piece I wrote for a long-dead blog...

I used to think it was pretty cool that Cameron Crowe was a writer for Rolling Stone as a teenager. Now, after seeing "Almost Famous," his film documenting this period, I'm not so sure I believe it anymore. Seems to me any random writer, even one who was not even alive in the seventies, could have written this turbid mess. Is there any actual proof Crowe achieved this? Who can corroborate his story, or better yet, refute it? Has anyone looked into Crowe's whereabouts on the night Lester Bangs died?

First of all, there's his self-aggrandizement. All through the film, people are enthusing what a great and special kid Crowe's alter-ego Will is, despite the fact that he says little of interest and never changes the dopey expression on his dull face. He displays the charisma of a fire hydrant (if a fire hydrant could have a 70's kitchen table haircut).

Is it his talent as a writer that distinguishes him? Well, we never actually hear anything that he's written, so I guess it can't be that. There are a scant few moments when the camera pans by small scraps of yellow legal paper which contain sentence fragments. Having looked carefully, I can assure you that nothing scribbled there was remarkable.

He spends days on tour with a third-rate Grand Funk, and somehow still can't come up with an angle for his story. So he contacts Bangs, who rattles off a lame, ridiculously vague one-sentence summary. Will passes it along to Ben Fong-Torres at RS, who is unconvincingly stoked by what he hears. I'm quite certain any self-respecting editor would have rolled his eyes in exasperation and asked "Alright, what else you got?"

By the time Will finally gets his interview with the lead singer, we've been led to believe this enigmatic figure (who's kind of like a Lizard King you can bring home to mom) will have an insight into why music touches us that will have the audience swooning. Instead, the ultimate scene has him settle into a chair and assert, in a way that's somehow both ponderous and terse, that what he loves about music is (are you ready?): "Everything." Wow. Really? Everything? How do you spell that?

Then you have puffy-faced, adenoidal Kate Hudson as Penny, the world's most boring groupie. She doesn't even take her top off! When she and her equally boring groupie friends decide to deflower stone-faced Will, they dance around the room like pre-teen girls re-enacting a Wiccan fertility ritual one of them saw in a movie once.

Aside from a glimpse of "David Bowie," we never get to see anyone who's supposed to be or even resemble rock stars of the day. Instead we get, "Hey, Bob Dylan was just here a minute ago" and "There goes Led Zeppelin, through the hotel lobby!" No shit? Can we get a camera on them for a while? At least they're up in their suite having fun, banging actual hardcore groupies with halibut and whiskey bottles. Can I see that before I fall asleep please?

Add the super-douchey "Tiny Dancer" singalong that nearly caused me to walk, and the stupid plane crash scene (the drummer blurts out that he's GAY! Get it? They're not gonna crash at all! And now they know he's a FAG!), it all left me annoyed, bored, and wanting to investigate the authenticity of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." I'm starting to believe that "The Wild Life" was Crowe's true defining opus. Besides, it's been six years since "Jerry Maguire" came out, and there are STILL retards out there bleating "Show me the money!" That's enough reason to despise Cameron Crowe, this piss-poor memoir notwithstanding.

[2016 add: Check out Crowe's output since this was written. I rest my case.]