Dem Reviews: The Runaways

Posted by Famous WhitewaterJuly 22, 2010 - 8:24am

(Special guest reviewer Famous Whitewater blesses us today with his review of this film. Be sure to check out all his hijinks over at Fresno Famous and follow him on Twitter via @FresnoFamous)

“The Runaways” is a mess of a movie that goes nowhere, says nothing and leaves you totally unsatisfied. OK, not totally, but the movie, which runs at 106 minutes, does leave you with more questions than answers. For instance: How does a no-name band of 15-years olds go from practicing in a trailer to headlining shows in Japan? Seriously I’d like to know? Also: is Joan Jett a lesbian? Was she in love with Cherie Currie? Or were they just good friends? Good in all caps. Where most rock biopics seek to completely dissect the lives of our favorite stars, to really lay their souls bare, The Runaways chooses to glam over, well, just about everything. We get a sense that Jett and Currie and whoever else was in the band (oh, right, Lita Ford) are troubled teens (Jett is huffing something in a bag in the opening scenes) we get no sense of the why. It’s a problem that runs throughout the movie. Things roll along with no real purpose. You sit through scenes of the girls playing some house party dodging beer cans, or rolling around on a hotel bed in their underwear (and there’s nothing wrong with any of it, mind you) but you keep waiting for something to happen. Because, duh, we all know the band breaks up. Then it does, and the only reason you care is because you know Joan Jett goes on to write “I Love Rock and Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” If you’re not a Jett fan you might not care at all.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning do great work as the film’s leads (Joan Jett and Cherie Currie). Stewart might not be playing that far outside her range (if at all), in which case it’s better casting than acting, but either way, it works. Stewart IS Joan Jett. It’s more than the hair. And while it’s a little pervy and off-putting to see cute-little Dakota Fanning all grown up and with a full set of teeth and strutting around next to naked, she pulls it off in a way that doesn’t seem overreaching. But everyone not Stewart of Fanning is pretty much crap. Michael Shannon rages on screen as uber-douche record producer Kim Fowley, but he doesn’t come off as being a major player in the movie (though reading between the lines he should be) so who cares? Of course, maybe none of that matters. This is after all, a rock-and-roll movie, about hot girls and loud guitars, and it has that in spades. You get a good dose of The Runaways hits, but there’s also some Iggy and Gary Glitter and the MC5 doing an awesome version of “It’s a Man’s World.” If you’re a fan of the times, this is all a plus and you’ll probably want to buy the soundtrack (I know I do).

Is it a win for a movie if the worst thing I can say is I am sort of ambivalent? Because while there is a lot wrong with “The Runaways,” it gets enough right to keep it intriguing enough not to hate. In today’s climate could be ringing endorsement, yes?



  • famous says:

    Thanks for the space.

  • Heather says:

    Hunh. I was semi-interested in seeing this movie. Maybe I'll wait for it to land on Vh1 someday.

  • brodiemash says:

    I just added it on my Netflix queue but I think it might be coming off now. Great write-up, sir!

  • Cherie says:

    Hey Whitewater!
    Cherie Currie here.
    If you can, get my new book 'Neon Angel, Memoir of a Runaway'. It answers all your questions and more. Kristen, Dakota and Michael did a superb job didn't they?
    Thanks for taking the time to review.

  • Heather says:

    Wow, you got the real Cherie Currie to comment? Good for you, Famous!

  • brodiemash says:

    Celebrity comment FTW!

  • Bryan says:

    Haven't seen this flick or even heard much about it, might check it out now.

  • Daniel says:

    Joan Jett didn't write “I Love Rock and Roll” , it's a cover of a song originally done by UK band The Arrows.

    I saw Cherie Currie (with her sister Marie) when she played Fresno at the Warnor's Star Palace in 1980 and she was totally awesome.

  • famous says:

    Watched Edgeplay this weekend.
    It's not the best documentary.
    Joan Jett has no part in it, there's very little of the Runaways music in it (due to right's issues no doubt) and it still leaves some things pretty vague.

    But as a companion piece to the biopic it works well. You get a much better sense of the timeline of things (the band continued for several years without Cherie). The nastier parts (Ken Fowley's abuse, the ruination of several members by drugs, fame etc.) don't get glossed over. Where the biopic focuses on Cherie (and Joan), the documentary talks in depth to the other members. Pu the two together and you might get one great picture.

    As it is, I feel like there was some stuff left unsaid. Hinted at, but unsaid.

    I guess I'll have to give in and get Cherie's book.

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