In 1973 San Diego, California, William Miller (Patrick Fugit)is a teenager and aspiring rock journalist. His mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand) is a local college professor with conservative beliefs who wants him to become a lawyer. Miller writes for underground papers, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums given by his sister, Anita (Zooey Deschanel).
William has sent rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) some of his writing and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to review a Black Sabbath concert. Bangs advises William not to befriend rock stars.
Without any credentials, William cannot get backstage to the San Diego Sports Arena where the concert is taking place. Outside, he meets a few local groupies, led by a young woman named Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). He also meets the opening band, Stillwater. They bring William backstage after he critiques their work. Stillwater’s guitarist, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), takes a liking to William.
William and Penny go to Hollywood to see Stillwater again. Penny serves as William’s guide, but her real goal is to get close to Russell, who she is in love with. William is working with Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen), the editor of Rolling Stone, who wants William to write a story about Stillwater for the magazine. Ben, who does not realize that William is only a teenager, sends William on the road to write about the band.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman would have won an Oscar if there was an awards given for cameos. His role was too small to be considered for best supporting actor, but it was the best performance I have seen in a long time. McDormand and Hudson both earned their nominations. Kate Hudson’s range was astonishing, especially in the “$50/Case of Beer” scene.
Jason Lee was born to play the part of Jeff Bebe, and Jimmy Fallon was surprisingly strong as a sleazy agent. The movies focal points were Billy Crudup as Russel Hammond, a self-centered guitarist with several intricate layers to his makeup. Crudup played the part perfectly and deserved official recognition for his work. Patrick Fugit, playing William Miller/CC was excellent in his debut. Like Hudson, his expressions were worth a million words.
Director: Cameron Crowe
Year of Release: 2000
Character to watch: Patrick Fugit as William Miller.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?