by Stephanie P '16

Movie Review: The Runaways

Sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll. These are the fundamental components of the all girl punk rock group, The Runaways. The movie, also entitled “The Runaways,” is supposed to be a look into the lives of both Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), two of the five members in the band, but instead focuses on the temporary success of Currie (nicknamed “Cherry Bomb” by producer Kim Fowley). Although it was clear that the band’s formation was due to the hopeful and determined Joan Jett, Stewart’s role in the movie was not nearly as big as Fanning’s.
Although this was a time where women came upon hardships when facing the rock & roll scene, this movie tells the story of the exception. It starts off with Jett invading the 70’s club in Southern California surrounded by booze, older men, and under-aged girls. As she catches the eye of an acclaimed major producer and manager Kim Fowley, Joan Jett meets her future boss and fellow band mates. Fowley loves everything this new girl group has to offer but proposes the idea of a dirty, blonde rocker sex-kitten to take the role of lead vocals. Finding Currie in a club corner a few days later, the band is hesitant to take her in after her bold looks don’t match with her personality. Fanning is coached by Fowley after refusing to sing vile lyrics and is quickly turned into a druggie, acting out all the parts a rockstar chick is portrayed to be.
While the band rehearses and gets some quick cash from house parties, their manager takes most of the income and sets them off on tour in a run-down van with little money. On tour, Currie gets involved with one of her roadies as well as band-mate Jett. The Runaway’s now went against everything a kid’s parents would warn them about. Maybe this was why the all girl teenage rock band was so popular in Japan. Creating chaos wherever they went only fueled the ego of front woman Currie. All the fame and money went to her head and the rest of the band was through with her outbursts. After an unpleasant experience in the recording studio, the band broke up which caused the determined Joan Jett to start a new group on her own. Cherie lived off her fame for a while after but eventually ended up working in a wood shop carving sculptures. The movie ends with Currie calling in to a radio station after hearing her former band-mate, best friend, and lover. Joan Jett finally receives her spotlight with her billboard-topping band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Ultimately, the movie did not live up to all its underground hype. The film was drowned by its emphasis on drugs and alcohol, which took away from the music and story behind the band. Additionally, the story was almost all one-sided, focusing on Currie’s career rather than Joan Jett and the rest of the band members. The soundtrack, however, was not as disappointing as the movie. Although there was no possibility it could live up to the classic, grungy rock & roll of that time, Stewart and Fanning did a relatively good job with covering the hits. Their acting was also surprisingly much better than their praised performances in the New Moon: Twilight Series film. Overall, I’d say this is a decent movie to see with a group of friends – not your parents! It gives a knowledgeable insight to the city nightlife in the 70’s and a glimpse into the discovery of a short-lived teen phenomenon.

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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