A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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).
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Frequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "p---y," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.