Almost Famous

Movie review by
M. Faust, Common Sense Media
Almost Famous Movie Poster Image
Great, but lots of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 122 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The morality of journalism is a key theme. If the charismatic subject seduces the writer, objectivity is compromised and sycophantic puffery results, betraying the reader. Alternatively, the interviewer who feigns friendliness to get a more honest story betrays the subject with an unvarnished exposé. Casual sex is portrayed as exciting but ultimately damaging. Sexism is an issue the film explicitly condemns. Mostly white characters.

Positive Role Models & Representations

William is smart and kind but, though grounded by his sensible mother and a wise mentor, still is awed by the freewheeling life of wannabe rock stars. His mother is at once full of uncompromising edicts, yet supportive enough to trust him for weeks on the road with a band. The self-absorbed guitarist seems to learn humility at the end, and a groupie breaks free from her obsession with musicians. The rock musicians admit they're in rock and roll to avoid responsibility and because it attracts girls, but the life portrayed here is chaotic and emotionally painful. Characters ultimately learn and demonstrate curiosity, perseverance, and integrity.

Violence

A few arguments lead to mild brawls among friends. A flight becomes so turbulent that all the passengers fear they're going to die.  A character seriously considers having sex with a woman who is unconscious.

Sex

The lead character loses his virginity to a trio of bored girls. The free-sex lives of musicians on the road is an issue that's shown to lead to emotional stress. Brief partial nudity (bare breasts).

Language

Frequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "p---y," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The rock musicians engage in drinking alcohol, smoking pot, and taking LSD. Some smoke cigarettes. The behavior is shown to be fun but self-destructive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that a teen girl in Almost Famous attempts suicide. Some moderate expletives, including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," and "p---y." These rock musicians on the road in the 1970s engage in all the bad behavior you might expect -- drinking, casual sex, drugs -- but the behavior is never glorified and is shown to be self-destructive. The lead character loses his virginity to a trio of bored girls. Brief partial nudity (bare breasts). A few arguments lead to mild brawls among friends. A flight becomes so turbulent that all the passengers fear they're going to die.  A character seriously considers having sex with a woman who is unconscious.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 year old Written byMom-an-em April 10, 2009

Great Movie and Pretty Accurate too.

This is a very funny movie. I saw it in the theaters when it was released but also watched it last night on DVD with my 14 year old daughter and she really enjo... Continue reading
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe October 29, 2010
Great movie! I loved it! But it's definitely not for children or tweens. It's all about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and they aren't sh... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymiranda1993 April 9, 2008
Teen, 16 years old Written bysmokeydiablo April 9, 2008

This movie is so good...

...it has influenced me to choose the career path that I have. Brilliant acting, brilliant script, brilliant music; truly a must-see.

What's the story?

In ALMOST FAMOUS, loving yet strict Elaine Miller (Frances McDormand) is a single mother who distrusts rock music and fears drug use. Her children react in different ways. Anita (Zooey Deschanel) drops out of school and becomes a stewardess. William (Patrick Fugit), meanwhile, uses his love of rock 'n' roll by writing album reviews for an underground newspaper. He gets a big break when Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), editor of renegade rock magazine Creem, hires him to cover a Black Sabbath concert. His work for that concert leads to attention from Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen), who assigns William a cover story on band Stillwater. Williams joins the band on tour.

Is it any good?

Despite taking place in the middle of the raucous 1970s, this film is a timeless coming-of-age story that will appeal to viewers regardless of whether or not they were around during the era. Teens will certainly be amused by the period fashions and attitudes, but they'll also respond to the characters, who deal with issues that have always plagued young people. Of course, this was the era of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," and Almost Famous doesn't shy away from showing the excesses of life on the road. But the movie always paints them as just that -- excesses. When rock star Russell takes advantage of his celebrity at a small-town party, his indulgence in alcohol and drugs nearly costs him his life. Penny Lane, who, like her fellow "band aids," is insulted when anyone calls her a groupie, comes to see that there's scarcely a difference. She eventually realizes that sex is not a game and not free of consequences.

Older audience members will delight in the way that Crowe (Jerry Maguire) has captured the 1970s, with a clear but affectionate eye for the styles and attitudes of the times. His use of music is especially canny; the Stillwater songs (cowritten by Crowe and his wife, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson) sound right at home with the sterling selection of actual songs from the pre-disco days. Patrick Fugit's star-making debut as the young hero William is but one of many funny and touching performances. Frances McDormand, the star of movies as diverse as Madeline and Fargo, continues to prove she's one of today's finest actors.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the "rock star" lifestyle, as it's presented in Almost Famous. How accurate do you think the movie is? 

  • How do you think real musicians and other celebrities handle sudden fame and fortune? How has media attention to stars changed since the time period presented here?

  • How do the characters in Almost Famous learn and demonstrate curiosity, perseverance, and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate