Almost Famous is one of those movies that when you see it’s on TV, you gotta watch it. And when you turn it on, the first thing you ask yourself is, “did I miss the Tiny Dancer scene?”
That scene will turn the corners of your mouth up. No, it will not give you a huge teeth-grinning smile but rather a little smirk. Many of us become films harshest critiques when we see a movie for the first time. We say certain scenes are too unrealistic or it was nothing like the book. However, this scene is not like that. At the end of it, you will give the scene a few deserving nods of approval and think to yourself, “yeah, that was a great scene.”
What many first time viewers of Almost Famous don’t realize is that this scene buries itself into the back of your mind and can even manage to find a place for itself in your heart. The true power of this scene comes through the next time you hear the song Tiny Dancer. Maybe it comes on the radio when you’re alone in your car. You’re sitting at a red light with other cars all around you. You hear the first few notes on the piano and the corners of your mouth turn up. You start to nod your head and suddenly it’s 1973 and you’re on a tour bus in the California desert belting out Tiny Dancer with your rock band. And unlike ever before, the words might even have some meaning or make sense to you now.
This movie is incredibly underrated. It wasn’t an instant quotable like Mean Girls and when someone says they’ve never seen it, nobody jumps down their throat making them feel like they’ve been living under a rock their entire life. Instead, fans of this movie will calmly say something along the lines of, “It’s a great movie. You really should watch it one day.” The explanation of why it’s a great movie is difficult to put into words. It wasn’t gut-bustingly funny nor very romantic or action packed. It just gives people this feeling. I think we just like to watch other people experience a freedom we’ve never known and for 120 minutes, pretend that it’s us.
The Tiny Dancer scene plays out the fantasy of escaping, of driving along a desert road not knowing or caring about the future. Just the here and now. The only dialogue in this scene solidifies this idea. When the protagonist, a young aspiring journalist, says to Kate Hudson’s character Penny Lane, “I have to go home”, she responds by saying, “You are home.” That is the message of this scene and the movie in general. Home is wherever you belong, where people accept you and you can be free. It is a message powerful enough to stick with you for a lifetime. It’s that scene and this message that makes you watch the movie over and over again and every time it’s on TV.
Tiny Dancer Scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHH3FoJUEbg