?I love Rock n Roll and I love this Movie!? - Jan Wahl, KCBS AM/FM and KRON-TV, San Francisco — "Rock ?n' roll fans of every gender and generation will identify with this." - A.O. Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES — ?Stewart and Fan... more »ning have never been stronger.? ?Michael Phillips, CHICAGO TRIBUNE« less
Joan Jett and L.A. impresario Kim Fowley manufacture the ultimate all girl rock band in the 1970s, who make a brief splash and then quickly implode in a haze of drugs and egos.
Interesting (if slightly dry) bio-pic that supposedly isn't very historically accurate even though it's based on lead singer Cherie Currie's autobiography. After a while I got the feeling that the movie should've been called "The Joan and Cherie Story," since the other Runaways are basically background characters who have very little to say or do.
Great performance by Kristen "Twilight" Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, though, and of course the soundtrack rocks. Good stuff.
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The Runaways Puts Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll Back In Rock Mo
Jym Cherry | Wheaton, IL United States | 03/22/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It seems movies about punk rock seem to get the experience right, like, Sid and Nancy, and The Runaways. The bio-pics of the 60's era musician's either focus on the addictions or the music, but punk era bio-pics of the band seem to get both right. Not only does The Runaways manage to tell the story of the band, but also manages to translate the existential experience of the times and the music.
The Runaways follows the myth of the band, The Runaways. Created by Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) a long time Sunset Strip dissipate/denizen with record producer cards in his pocket he meets the teenaged Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) who wanted to start an all girl band. Fowley accommodates her by her introducing her to drummer Sandy West (Stella Maeve) and they go prowling L.A. clubs to find a Bridget Bardot type to front the band and discover the 15 year old Cherie Curry (Dakota Fanning). Fowley soon has them in a an abandoned trailer to practice as he whips them into shape with his "Rock `n' Roll boot camp." The irony in The Runaways was that the band was the creation of the band (like the Sex Pistols owing their existence to Malcom McLaren) both of whom understood the style over substance philosophy of self-promotion and controversy. When The Runaways started discovering themselves as artists they had to fight Fowley who treated them as a product and that he owned them, and they owed their success to him.
As the band climbs to rock stardom, the movie captures at first the freedom and victory the first flash that success provides. But in the story of Runaways front woman Cherie Currie, who truly lived up to the band's name in trying to escape and avoid her father's alcohol problems, the sins of the father are visited upon the daughter and Currie finds herself wrapped up in drugs and alcohol. Much has been made about Fanning playing a role that is so "adult," but she is the same age Currie was as she lived it. The Who sung of "girls of 15 and sexually knowing" life can add years of experience to a teenagers life and Rock 'n' Roll can accelerate that; you can see it on Fannings face towards the end of the movie washed up at 17 Currie could have been well on her way to making Jim Morrison's death seem that of an old man.
Stewart and Fanning both disappear into their roles. Stewart seems to inhabit Joan Jett, she has the look down, she sounds like Jett, she even has the "hunch" over the microphone that Jett has when singing and playing. Michael Shannon is decadently creepy as Fowley. The other members of The Runaways are set in the background, Sandy West is there so The Runaways can form, and Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) when they need a little internal dissent in the band, but the movie is based on Cherie Currie's autobiogrpahy Neon Angel, and focuses on hers and Jett's story.
I read some of the previous reviews of the movie and I found the movie much better than the reviews, it's a story that rocks!
DVD Bonus Features: The Runaways DVD has a couple of nice bonus features. A commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Some times the commentary sounds like three girls sitting in the row in front of you talking, but during key scenes of the movie Jett adds a few remembrances' or tidbits on how close to reality the scene is to make it worthwhile. There's also a nice little making of documentary "Plugged In" that talks with all the principals and key members of the crew."
Women in Rock and Roll History
R. DelParto | Virginia Beach, VA USA | 04/10/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the middle of the glitter and glam rock of Ziggy Stardust, sappy contemporary love songs, and upon the threshold of the disco era, a revolutionary genre of music was skirting right behind, the punk era of the mid to late 1970s and a Southern California all girl rock band called the Runaways. Indeed, one of rock and roll history's unsung bands to have emerged in musical history. The film adaptation of the rise and fall of the band is an eye-opening experience, especially for those who may not have heard of the band or may have had a small inkling of exposure of the music of any one of the band members, most famously, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton), Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), Sandy West (Stella Maeve), and Jackie Fox; Fox is given the fictitious name of Robin (Alia Shawkat) due to her refusal to use her name in the film. Director Floria Sigismondi captures the decade with the images, the fashion, gender-bender appeal, and most importantly, the music of the Runaways that provide the soundtrack for the film.
The film does a good job showing a by-gone era that has long passed from platform shoes, bell-bottom jeans, and feathered-hairdos that typified the 70s. But the Runaways along with their male counterparts, the Ramones helped the listening public keep abreast with guitar driven rock amidst the dance fever that was riding the wave of the decade. However, fame and success does not come without unfortunate circumstances, ironies, and clichés that are explicitly displayed throughout this fairytale rags to riches story. It is these aspects that make the band's story interesting in two instances. First, young women barely 18 years old and making a name for themselves by playing, singing, and strutting their rock stage stuff within a male-dominated business that was highly charged with sexism during the height of the women liberation and feminist movement, which the women in the band were not trying to prove, but rather the opportunity to simply land a record contract, signed with Mercury Records, and to play rock and roll music in a man's world. This is stressed throughout the film by the girls' somewhat conniving manager/impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who keeps the male-chauvinistic and raunchy sexual innuendo flying as he shows and trains the girls how to be rockstars and claims that the band will be as big as The Beatles; not quite but had a similar following with the mania and gaining fans as far as Japan. Second, the spotlight and melodramatic scenes of lead singer Cherie, her close relationship with her sister Marie, living within the shadow of her actress mother (played by Tatum O'Neal) and her downward spiral due to band member rivalry and drug addiction and guitarist and singer Joan who helped to keep the rock and roll spirit alive despite the tensions that surmounted that would eventually cause the band's demise but would reemerge as a solo artist to sing the most identifiable rock anthems, "I Love Rock and Roll."
The Runaways is an enticing film filled with nostalgia and the music. And possibly, the movie may finally allow the women to receive their due in rock and roll history 35 years later. "
Worth Seeing Just for the Stunt Casting
L. Gildart | Somerville, MA USA | 04/14/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film has some issues, it's true. It's based on Cherie Currie's book, and Joan Jett executive produced it, so the movie deals mostly with only two of the Runaways. In fact, Lita Ford is reduced to complaining about Cherie Currie receiving more than her fair share of attention. For me, this added a layer of irony to an otherwise shallow band biopic.
The lack of depth really isn't a downside, at least not for me. The band wasn't all that deep. What made them great was timing, youth, novelty, and amazing energy. Punk was just hitting its stride in 1975, and the Runaways were perfectly positioned. But they somehow ended up making songs - at least some songs - that hold up really well. The movie illustrates, very deftly, how this was partly by accident, partly by the sheer force of Joan Jett's will, and partly by Kim Fowley's perverted design.
To that end, maybe by accident, maybe by design, who knows? the movie makes fantastic use of stunt casting in the small roles. Marie Currie, Cherie's twin who joined her in later musical endeavors, is played by Elvis' granddaughter Riley Keough. Robert Romanus, the smarmy Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, plays the smarmy guitar teacher who disses Joan Jett and tries to make her play On Top of Old Smoky.
Cherie Currie's mother, actress Marie Harmon, is played to perfection by mother of the year Tatum O'Neal (who looks amazing, by the way). And, in the biggest and best bit of stunt casting, Kristen Stewart, who in real life strongly resembles Cherie, absolutely disappears into the role of Joan Jett. The overall effect of this is to communicate the similarities between Jett and Curry without adding a word of dialogue. Dakota Fanning, although physically softer-looking than Currie, is used well to convey how very young Currie really was during her time as a Runaway.
I didn't walk away with any deep lasting impressions after watching this - except that Courtney Love should be sending Cherie Currie royalty checks, but it is a movie I would watch more than once on dvd. The soundtrack is a nice mix of real Joan Jett and surprisingly good performances from Fanning and Stewart, together with some glam classics."
Good, but a few things were avoided, missing, or downplayed
Startrout | Northridge, CA United States | 07/26/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I thought the performances by the two leads were terrific. However, Lita Ford got completely snubbed in this movie. If you didn't know the band and of her legacy you'd wouldn't even remember Lita Ford being in the group after watching this movie. Also, as someone that has seen them live, this movie really down played how raunchy and wild these girls performances really were (sexual behavior, blood, etc). The music was a lot cleaner too (like it was done in a studio) than how it really was, but I guess that's to be expected in a movie trying to be successful with a wider audience. Finally, they indicated sex was going on with the girls, but at the same time, they really steered around it avoiding any specifics (probably to protect the people involved as the girls were under age).
Oh, one other thing that bothered me quite a bit was at the end or the movie they say what happened to Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, and manager (went on to do so and so...). But, again they left out Lita Ford, Sandy and the bass player (who's name escapes me at the moment). That was really a huge mistake in my mind and I'm shocked they did that.
A note on the extras. I listened to the whole movie with the commentary by Joan Jett and the two stars. While interesting, the girls spoke over Joan Jett all the way through discussing their performances and just random stuff (mostly just talking to talk). I really wanted to hear from Joan what really happened through out, but she hardly was given a chance to tell us. Also, they should of asked the other band members to be there as well as their thoughts and memories would have been very interesting."
Raw, Realistic, Rebellious
Monkdude | Hampton, Virginia | 07/24/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had wanted to see The Runaways ever since I first heard about it, but it never got a wide release. I was surprised to see that it just made a little over 3 million dollars during it's brief theatrical run, even though most critic reviews were favorable. I didn't know much about the all girl band formed in 1975, but just by being a fan of rock music, I knew the names of Joan Jett and Lita Ford. This movie focuses more on Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, so arguably the most talented band member, Lita Ford, doesn't get much to say or do.
I didn't think Kristen Stewart had it in her, especially after those terrible Twilight movies, but she pulls off the Joan Jett attitude and mannerisms about as good as one could hope for. Now I can't see any other actress in the part. Dakota Fanning, as Cherie Currie, is quite possibly the standout. She really shows some serious grown-up level acting here. Both actresses are in some pretty risqué scenes, but because Dakota Fanning was only 15 at the time of filming, I think the majority of viewers will get a feeling that the writer/director must be perverted, until the end credits roll and you realize that a woman is responsible. Michael Shannon gets the third most screen time and manages to play one creepy manager. It's hard not to feel uncomfortable whenever he is on screen, but that's the point, and he nailed it.
Not only do Kristen and Dakota act the part, they also do all the singing. The songs here are not the most techincal, but they are fun and full of middle finger waving angst.
The Runaways isn't a great movie, but the three great acting performances, mid 70's backdrop, sex, drugs, and some rockin' tunes, keep it far away from ever feeling dull. For those like myself, who wouldn't be born until sometime in the next decade, this film gives a realistic look back in time when rock 'n' roll ruled the world.
The Blu-ray looked and sounded much better than a regular DVD, but I've seen better. There is an audio commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, as well as, a 15 minute making-of feature, but nothing more."