William: What do you love about music? Russell: To begin with... Everything.
Almost Famous is a coming-of-age film directed by Cameron Crowe released in the year 2000, loosely based on Crowe's own teenage years as a music critic.The plot follows the experiences of Author Avatar William Miller, an aspiring teenage rock journalist who gets sucked headfirst into the world of rock when he goes on tour with a band named "Stillwater". In addition to the band itself, he becomes acquainted with its groupies and gets a good look at what happens underneath the glamorous exterior that most people are presented with.
Penny: How old are you? William: Eighteen. Penny: Me too! (beat) How old are you really? William: Seventeen. Penny:Me too! William: Actually I'm sixteen. Penny:Me too! Isn't it funny? The truth sounds so different. William: (a little quieter) I'm fifteen.
California Doubling: The film was shot in and around Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA, Crowe's hometown. Much of the film is set there, but the parts that aren't were also filmed there. The San Diego Sports Arena appears both as itself and as a stand-in for several other concert venues throughout the film.
Deconstruction: This entire film is a deconstruction on the illusion of rock-star life. It seems glamorous at first, but then the fame starts getting to your head and you start doing stupid things that you would never do in the right mind. Fame leads to an illusion of invulnerability and often creates tension between band members (often brought on by record execs to force them to create a big radio hit against the will of the band member's better judgement or creative being all for the sake of profit). It just goes to show that the rock-star life is nothing more than a gilded cage.
Diegetic Switch: The famous "Tiny Dancer" sing-a-long is a reversed example of this. When the song starts it's clearly soundtrack music: the opening bars start before Russell gets on the bus and continue as the bus leaves Topeka and reaches Kansas farmland. Then, when the drummer starts beating time with the song, it becomes clear that the song is playing on the bus as diegetic music.
Ensemble Darkhorse: The in-universe example of Russell Hammond, who upstages the band leader without even trying. One of the incidents exposing the underlying tension within the band is when their first T-shirts prominently feature him instead of the lead singer.
Homage: In addition to many events taken directly from real life (e.g. the scene where the band's plane almost crashes happened while director Crowe was touring with The Who), the movies is full of homages to rock bands and albums. The scene where one of the Stillwater members is shocked by his microphone is a possible shout out to Keith Relf of the Yardbirds, who died after being electrocuted by improperly grounded music equipment. Some scenes are also framed to look like or include references to album covers, such as a shot of the crowd at the first Stillwater concert that's made to look like the cover to Neil Young's "Time Fades Away."
Incredibly Lame Pun: The band's name is Stillwater. The Rolling Stone article? "Stillwater Runs Deep".
Loads and Loads of Characters: Just a few: William, Penny, Russel Hammond, Elaine, Jeff Bebe, Anita, Saphire, Dick, Lester Bangs and Ben Fong-Torres.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Penny Lane is a deconstruction of this — she uses her quirky, upbeat attitude to hide her inner loneliness and hurt, something that becomes painfully apparent at the end of the movie. Unsurprisingly, it was a later Cameron Crowe film that inspired the Trope Namer. Crowe is awfully fond of this trope.
My Beloved Smother: Elaine, William's mother, though subverted to some degree: She's portrayed sympathetically.
Cameron Crowe's mother was on the set for most of the scenes "she" was in, and participated in the DVD Commentary.
Nothing But Hits: Anita leaves William her record collection, which apparently consists entirely of well-known, critically-acclaimed rock albums that have stood the test of time and remain instantly recognizable to contemporary audiences.
Semi-averted with the actual soundtrack to the movie, with throws in such lesser-known gems as Cat Stevens' "The Wind" and The Beach Boys' "Feel Flows" alongside the expected classics.
Many real rock-and-roll personalities are actual characters in the movie, or implied to be just off-screen. Lester Bangs drops these left and right. Penny Lane is a nod to The Beatles and is also is loosely based on a real person. At one point William is trying to interview Black Sabbath. On a couple of different occasions, he encounters groupies chasing after David Bowie, Robert Plant, or Jimmy Page. And Penny is sold to Humble Pie.
Russell: Hey, why didn't you come back to the party last night? Bob Dylan showed up. He was sitting at our table for what had to be an hour or something, right, Dick? Dick: Yeah. Russell: Just rapping. Bob Dylan at our fucking table.
Technology Marches On: Played for a laugh. "A Mo-Jo, it's a very high-tech machine that transmits pages over the telephone! It only takes eighteen minutes a page!"
Throw It In: "Do you want to go to Morocco?" "Yes. [beat] Ask me again." This was not scripted, but in fact was Patrick Fugit asking Kate Hudson to do another take of the exchange.
Title Drop: Sign on the front of the Stillwater tour bus.
Watch Out for That Tree!: Sapphire, while running alongside Stillwater's tour bus to give William a message, runs straight into a wall. Thankfully averted near the end of the movie where William runs along with Penny's plane as it takes off.