Is poring over a movie screenplay generally worthwhile for busy folks who aren’t aspiring screenwriters? Probably not. But anybody who treasures terrific dialogue and sharp descriptions should curl up with Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous screenplay — it’s full of good scenes that were heavily abridged or simply chopped out.
Crowe has a great facility with characters who alienate each other while endearing themselves to us. Like Elaine (Frances McDormand), the single mom who’s afraid her 15 year old son, William, will become corrupted chronicling the rise of a rock band. The script gives Elaine a much fuller accounting than the movie does, from her irksome college prof habit of correcting people (”There is no word in the English language ‘Xmas,”’ she tells a storefront workman, ”it’s either ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays”’) to her dismay when William petitions against her hatred of rock (”Lo, that which I have feared has come upon me”).
In every way, Crowe’s script feels like the beating heart of his movie.