My hero-worship began when I first saw Say Anything my senior year of high school and it completely blew me away. Like everyone else, I fell in love with Lloyd Dobler, but I also fell in love with the director, Cameron Crowe.
I worked at a video store the summer after high school, and was dismayed by the monotonous video store customer chant, “What’s in, and new, and good?” I would gently steer the customers away from renting Con Air and Turbulence and hand them Say Anything. “Have you seen this one? It’s directed by Cameron Crowe, stars John Cusack…give it a chance, I think you’ll like it.” I successfully got dozens of people to rent Say Anything that summer, and every single one loved it.
Then I found out about Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A great movie to be sure, but when I found out that Cameron had gone undercover in a high school for a year to research the book?! I coveted the out of print tome and searched every used book store I could. I finally found a copy, which I cherish, and which I used as reference in my final essay for my film class in college, in which I purposed that every character in the film – except Stacy – is actually a virgin. When we showed Fast Times in that same film class, I showed up late and burst through the doors with checkered vans in hand and a bagel in my pants and yelled “Hey! There’s no birthday party for me here!” An hour later I had my best friend deliver me a pizza. My teacher was delighted, gave me extra credit, and called me “Spicoli” the rest of the year.
If there was one thing I wish Cameron Crowe would do, it’s re-publish Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It’s a terrific book.
THEN I found out that he had started writing for rock magazines and gone on the road at 15. Wow, I thought, how cool!! He should make a movie about that! Lo and behold, Almost Famous was born,which I think is a masterpiece and is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I was one of those kids smugly saying well, yeah, but I knew about this before the film.
I recently saw We Bought A Zoo. When my friend turned to me when it was over to ask what I had thought about the film, I burst into tears. It was so well done, so honest, it totally got me. Cameron definitely has still got it.
My birthday is this Sunday, the 18th, and I have chosen to show Say Anything and Almost Famous as a double feature. I am so lucky to work at the New Beverly, where I can choose my favorite movies to play for my birthday. I sent a twitter to Cameron asking if he could make it down for a Q&A, and although he can’t make it, he took the time to sign several incredible items for me to raffle off at the screenings on Sunday and Monday.
It is an indescribable feeling when an artist you have admired for so long also turns out to be an honest to goodness nice person. But I guess that’s why I have called Cameron Crowe my hero for so long. Because in spite of living such an over the top and cool life – he remains humble and as he calls it, “uncool”. He’s never let his fame go to his head, and he still tells stories that everyone can relate to. He is such an amazing filmmaker because his stories are real and honest, his dialogue actually sounds like how people talk, and his ability to be sentimental without over flowing into sappiness is unparalleled.
I have championed him since I was 18 years old, and this Sunday, when I turn 33, I will continue to do so. Cameron, here’s to you.