DVD REVIEW: The Runaways

I remember The Runaways…maybe I should unpack that statement since I was born well after the 1970’s. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school and the Christmas before I got my first guitar, a Fender Strat. One summer day while sitting on the couch banging away at some chord progression, a band called the The Runaways came on VH1 Classic’s rock hour singing (I believe) ‘I Love Playin’ With Fire’.  I loved them and every once in a while would catch a song on the radio. Then news reached my ears about a movie that chronicled the history of the revolutionary rock group; needless to say I was pretty excited about seeing it.

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The Runaways focuses primarily on the effects that the rise and fall of the  band has on Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning). Jett is a rebellious teen who wants to start an all girl band and happens to meets Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) outside famed club English Disco. With his help, the band begins to take shape but is missing a key element: A singer.

Enter young Cherie, who fills the position of singer at the young age of 15. After many rough shows and clashes with male bands, The Runaways start having a following and eventually get signed. But as their fame grows bigger, so do their problems. The band dissolves after having many arguments and a disastrous recording session. Now the ladies are now left with the struggle of staying on top in the music industry.

Do not let the names Fanning and Stewart trick you into thinking this is a family film: this movie is gritty, dirty, and full of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll…which is the way it should be. This movie may start off a little too slow but it certainly makes up for it with great writing.

Usually when I hear Dakota Fanning’s name, I cringe at the though of her making an appearance in a film. She just acts too cute for my taste and looks like she’s still 8 years old. But in The Runaways she is a full on young woman, acting her age and acting it well.

This also goes for everyone’s favorite vampire/werewolf/unicorn mistress Kristen Stewart. She has shown that she could handle a mature role before in Adventureland, and she does so again in this film. Her portrayal of Joan Jett is nothing short of great (it might have helped that one of the executive producers was the rock goddess herself). Michael Shannon has always been a talented actor and his roll as the overly sexual record producer Kim Fowley is another great example of his career.

Honestly, music biographical movies have never really translated well for me. The only two that I can think of off the top of my head right away are the wonderful Walk the Line (Story of Johnny Cash) and the under appreciated Control (The story of Ian Curtis/Joy Division). But The Runaways perfectly captures the spirit of seventies rock and is a great film that was overlooked this year. Seek it out and you will be happy that you did (but make sure the kiddies are in bed before you do).

Verdict: SEE IT!

Did you see The Runaways? Have an opinion? Leave it below.

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