Almost Famous



Great, but lots of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.


A few arguments lead to mild brawls among friends. A flight becomes so turbulent that all the passengers fear they're going to die.


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).


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

Not applicable
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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a teen girl 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.

What's the story?

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, ALMOST FAMOUS 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the "rock star" lifestyle, as it's presented here. 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 15, 2000
DVD release date:March 13, 2001
Cast:Jason Lee, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit
Director:Cameron Crowe
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, drug content and brief nudity

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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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 enjoyed it. Yes there are a few bad words but all in all this is a really tame R-rated movie. You can really have fun with discussions afterward about "the rock lifestyle" and how things have changed. The main character, a 15 year old boy, ends up writing an article for Rolling Stone Magazine. I thought it was good for my daughter to see that something like that could happen with a bit of perseverance, pushiness and talking to the right people. This is loosely based on Cameron Crowes life and he directed it so I guess he ought to know. Very good movie overall.
Teen, 16 years old Written bysmokeydiablo April 9, 2008

This movie is so good... has influenced me to choose the career path that I have. Brilliant acting, brilliant script, brilliant music; truly a must-see.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymiranda1993 April 9, 2008


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