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Growing Up in the Movies
Posted September 10, 2010 to photo album "Growing Up in the Movies"
To coincide with the release of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Nick Dawson looks at more movies in which teenage protagonists are thrust into the world of grown-ups.
Slide 10: Almost Famous (2001)
Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous told the somewhat story of a rock-loving teen, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), who gets a commission to write an article about life on tour with one of his favorite bands from Rolling Stone magazine – who are completely unaware of the fact that he’s only 15 years old. The pretext of the movie would be somewhat ludicrous and implausible were it not for the fact that Crowe himself was a writer for that very magazine when his voice was barely breaking, and all the experiences in the movie – the tour bus antics, drinking, drugs, girls, wild parties – are highly autobiographical. As in so many coming of age movies, the hero has a guru/mentor figure and here it’s real-life legendary journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who counsels Miller not only on what bands to listen to but how to deal with conflicts between his loyalty to the band (“friendship is the booze they feed you”) and his duty to be an honest and accurate journalist. In the world of rock ‘n’ roll, William is a kid who has to act like an adult – surrounded by adults acting like big kids – and be taken seriously by them: "I'm not sweet!" he shouts at Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), the groupie he has a crush on. "I'm dark and mysterious." Reviewing the film for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, “What gives Crowe's story poignance is his background as a teenage working journalist. At the age when kids are supposed to be feeling those gonadal guitar jolts for the first time, he was standing backstage during a concert, riding the band bus, eliciting sexual confessions from rock Rimbauds. This was a kid's dream. But to live it--to survive it--Crowe had to be a premature grownup.”