The Washington Post

Review: Cameron Crowe’s “Pearl Jam Twenty”

Cameron Crowe and Eddie Vedder during the making of “Pearl Jam Twenty” — a rockumentary that muddles the band’s legacy. (Vinyl Films & Tremolo Productions)

As his irritating new film, “Pearl Jam Twenty,” attempts to document — rockument? — the great Seattle band’s two-decade history, Crowe can’t decide whether he wants to play narrator, interviewer, insider, subject or superfan. The “Almost Famous” director pops in and out of this thing like a self-congratulatory Waldo, happily tagging along with his pals instead of doing the messy work of asking tough questions.

The story begins not with the band, but with Crowe moving to Seattle in the ’80s as a hungry young rock journo. Hypnotized by the ripples of primordial sludge that would spawn grunge, he befriends guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament — and spends the next two hours glossing over Pearl Jam’s knotted internecine dramas, either out of flattery or laziness.

What a drag. Here we have the band that never trusted the media to get its story right — and now that story is being muddled for posterity.


Read the full review from today’s Washington Post here.

“American Masters: Pearl Jam Twenty” (2 1/2 hours) airs Friday at 9 p.m. on WETA and at 9:40 p.m. on MPT.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about Adele's sadness, Kendrick Lamar's fury, Young Thug's genius and T-Pain's vulnerability.


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