The Runaways

PLOT:

The film opens with Cherie (Dakota Fanning) and her sister, Marie Currie (Riley Keough), as Cherie has just got her first period. Marie’s boyfriend, Derek (Brendan Sexton III), picks up the sisters from Marie’s job at “Pup n’ Fries” and Marie announces to him that Cherie has gotten her period. Angry at her sister for telling, she informs Derek that Marie is not wearing any underwear. Later, Cherie is seen cutting her hair in a shag and putting on face makeup in an attempt to create a look resembling Bowie on the cover of Aladdin Sane (the cover is shown on her wall as a poster). The scene is accompanied by scenes of Joan huffing marijuana with her girlfriend. Cherie is later seen lip-syncing David Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul at the school talent show and is the target of paper balls, to which Cherie reacts by flipping off the crowd, but wins the talent show.

Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) is making out with a guy outside a club when she sees record producer, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Joan approaches him and talks about starting an all-girl rock band. Kim is interested and introduces Joan to Sandy West (Stella Maeve), a drummer. Joan and Sandy become friends and start jamming when Kim suggests that they recruit a hot blonde in the vein of Brigitte Bardot.

At a club, Kim and Joan look for hot blondes and discover Cherie. They ask if she wants to be in a band and she accepts. Then they tell her to come to auditions in a trailer park in the valley.

Cherie learns the cover song of Suzi Quatro’s “Fever” and goes to audition, however they’re disappointed at the song. Instead, Kim kicks Cherie out of the trailer and with Joan, thinks of a song for Cherie to audition for, thus writing “Cherry Bomb”. Cherie sings it and, after improving, is part of the band.

After moving in with her aunt because her mom moved to Indonesia, Cherie travels to her first gig with the band. Soon, they get signed to Mercury Records and start recording an album. Due to the album’s success, they travel to Japan to play a concert. After their performance, Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) throws magazines at Cherie that have pictures of her, something Cherie thought was for the whole band.

After an argument with Lita, Cherie, and Joan, crazy Japanese fans break through the window and chase the girls out of the building. Afterward, Cherie overdoses in the hotel, collapses in an elevator and is sent to the hospital. Upon arrival home, Cherie’s alcoholic father is passed out on his bed. Cherie takes his painkillers and her actions are seen by Marie.

At the studio recording their next album, Cherie has a breakdown and refuses to play, followed by Lita trash-talking her and Joan defending Cherie. After a very heated argument, Cherie quits the band and leaves. Joan has a fit, throwing chairs and beer bottles against the glass. Cherie returns home while Joan continues playing and starts her own band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Cherie collapses again in a phone booth in a supermarket parking lot. At the hospital, Marie visits her and tells her to get her stuff straight.

Later at a job, Cherie hears Joan’s cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” on the radio and calls the station, where Joan is visiting for interviews. After an awkward conversation between Joan, Cherie, and even the radio host, Rodney Bingenheimer (Keir O’Donnell), Cherie says her goodbyes and continues working, smiling when Joan’s next song, “Crimson and Clover”, comes on the radio

REVIEW:

I’m only vaguely familiar with Joan Jett and Lita Ford, so I can’t really get in a huff about any inaccuracies this film may or may not have, however, I cam say that I did not really care for The Runaways.

I know there are a lot of people out there, mostly critics, who love this picture, but I just don’t fall in that category.

First of all, the casting doesn’t work. I’m partially biased, as I don’t particularly care for Kristen Stewart, since she is just a slightly more talented actress than Megan Fox. I guess if you’re not as hot, you have better have some talent, huh? I didn’t buy her as Joan Jett. She just didn’t have the aura, or vibe, if you will, that I expected from whomever would play Jett. Having said that, this is Stewart’s most impressive role.

Dakota Fanning may be growing up in front of our eyes, but she seems to be taking these roles that are solely meant to make her seem like an adult. As Cherie Currie, Fanning didn’t sell me on anything but the fact that she was just a little girl trying to act all grown up, especially in the parts where he character is trying to be all sexy. Unlike with Stewart, Fanning doesn’t shine with this role, for the reasons I just mentioned. She was just a bad choice.

Michael Shannon does a fairly decent job as the sleazy record producer, Kim Fowley, but I think he may have been a bit too over the top for the serious tone of this picture, or that may have been the reason for his characterization. Who knows?

I didn’t know that this film was from a book written by Cherie Currie. I thought it was just a random biopic. Since it was written by Currie, I can understand her being the main focus, otherwise you have to winder, why not focus on the “name” members, Joan Jett and Lita Ford.  I still question why there wasn’t more of Lita, and the rest of the band. It seemed like they wanted this to be a Cherie and Joan movie with Kim Fowley scenes every now and them.

A film about a music group must have the music, right? Believe it or not, they actually got that part right, but I would have liked for there to have been more. It just seemed like there could have been more performances, bu I guess the filmmakers wanted to focus more on the drama, rather than the music. Good call for a film about musicians (not the sarcasm)!

So, what is my verdict for this film. As I said before, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I can see how some people would like it. However, of the handful of people I know that actually took the time to watch this, no one seems to care for it. Let’s face it, this is not the most popular rock band in the world on film here. I think that may have been another reason I didn’t care for it. Either way, my opinion aside, I can recommend this if you’re really into Joan Jett or Kristen Stewart, or the music of The Runaways, but otherwise, this isn’t a must-see.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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