Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe’s new film, Aloha, opens on May 29, so I thought I would take a look back at some of his previous films before we all get caught in the deluge of summer blockbusters. Besides, I can only write so much about Star Wars and comic book movies.

Who am I kidding?

Crowe’s screenwriting career began with Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a.k.a. “The one with Phoebe Cates.” Yeah, there is a lot more to that movie than just that scene, but try telling that to me and my fourteen year old friends at the time. No one in my school ever had a pizza delivered, mainly because no place around delivered. I did get a friend to bring me a burger from the Pool Room, once. And we did send one guy to the store every day. Oddly enough, after high school, he got a job in a supermarket.

Next up is The Wild Life, which is not as good as Fast Times…, but is still better than a lot of 80s movies. Plus, any film that features original music by Edward Van Halen can’t be all bad. I was browsing through the local Goodwill recently, and I thought I found a copy of the soundtrack, but it turned out to be merely a laserdisc. What are the odds on that?

Say Anything… is an absolute classic. I was a fan of John Cusack from films like Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer, but Say Anything made him a household name. The film also launched Crowe’s career as a director, and I thought he was going to be the next John Hughes. But Crowe had other plans.

Singles was about twentysomethings living in Seattle at the time “grunge” was starting to become a thing. I was discussing the movie with one of the clerks at Musicdrome record store, and he put it best: “This film could have been so much more.” I’ll leave it at that.

Then along come Jerry Maguire, which is a brilliant satire of all the tropes found in romantic comedies. It nails all the cliches of the genre, such as the single parent with the way too smart kid, and the cheesey dialogue, such as: “You had me at ‘Hello’,” “You complete me,” “Help me help you,” and the rallying cry of athletes and type A-holes everywhere: “Show me the money!”

Moving on to what I consider Cameron Crowe’s masterwork: Almost Famous. Loosely based on Crowe’s early career as a writer for Rolling Stone, Almost Famous is a wonderful amalgam of the 70s and the music of the era. Unlike Dazed and Confused, and to a certain extent, Boogie Nights, Almost Famous isn’t entirely the 70s I remember, but it is the 70s I would have liked to experienced.

I have never watched all of Vanilla Sky; I have only seen bits on TV. It looks interesting, and I own the soundtrack, which is great, depite the fact it contains the short version of “The Porpoise Song” by The Monkees.

Boy, do people hate Elizabethtown of what? It’s the film that caused critic Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club to coin the term: “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” in reference to the character played by Kirsten Dunst. I enjoyed Elizabethtown, and it has nothing to do with MPDGs.

Orlando Bloom plays a guy who has to fly across the country, from Oregon, to deal with his father’s funeral arrangements. When a film is set in the South, I tend to cringe, since few filmmakers get it right. Crowe got it right. He nailed all the small details where most people would paint with a broad brush. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Southerners can be a funny lot, especially when it comes to death and funerals. In certain circumstances, I refer to these types of people as: “Redneckrophiliacs.” (See, I can coin terms, too.) And don’t even get these people started on the subject of cremation.

I know people like the ones who kept saying that Bloom’s character, Drew, was from California, and he had to constantly correct them. Oh, and the “Freebird” scene? It had me rolling. That… That scene is for real.

As for We Bought a Zoo, I’ll have to have a double feature with Vanilla Sky, someday.

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