William Miller (Fugit) is a prodigy, largely due to his protective, ambitious mother (McDormand), who pushes him to achieve far beyond his years. The editors of Rolling Stone see his local articles, and without knowing his tender age they hire him to follow an up-and-coming band Stillwater on their nationwide tour. Along the way, William becomes close friends with the band's leader (Crudup) and a groupie (Hudson) ... and he gets the inside scoop on his heroes as he's coached by his mentor/guru, the cynical music writer Lester Bangs (Hoffman).
The film is so infused with a love for '70s music that you can't help but be drawn into it. The period is intricately recreated without a single cliche, while the performances are all honest and open. Fugit (in his film debut) is remarkable, holding the film together and letting us see everything through his bemused, astonished eyes as he observes--and makes sense of--the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll around him. The film is jammed with classic sequences that are both terrifically entertaining and meaningful (the true-confessions sequence on a storm-engulfed airplane is wonderful!). And best of all, Crowe captures the buzz of being a behind-the-scenes journalist--meeting your heroes in person, hanging with them, basking in their reflected glory. As Bangs says, "We're uncool. They get the girls, but we're smart."
[15--strong themes and situations, language] 23.Oct.00
US release 15.Sep.00; UK release 9.Feb.01
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