Monday, August 9, 2010

Review - The Runaways

A biopic that outlines the all-girl 1970's rock band called The Runaways, but focuses primarily on the meteoric rise of Cherie Curry and Joan Jett. Two teenage girls, one picked out of a club and turned into a superstar in the matter of a couple months and the other was something no one had ever heard of, a girl with a guitar and a dream.

When I think of all the most impactful rock bands of the last 60 years, The Runaways are hardly one of the first band that comes to mind, however after watching "The Runaways" I believe it is a good thing their story is told. They are the first all girl rock band and while they may not be the best role models for all the little girls out there, their story serves a valuable lesson. Not to mention you get to hear (or be introduced) to some kick ass music along the way.

Being male the female perspective often slips my memory. Easier said, its not the first thing that comes to my mind, but that is no excuse. "The Runaways" is an immersing story told from the female perspective of both Cherie Curry and Joan Jett. Curry's tale is more specifically highlighted because of the lesson it schools the viewer. Curry being as young as she was and being completely submersed into a level of celebrity she wasn't ready for proved to be too much for her. She allowed the drugs and the lifestyle to burn her out. Her story does come across as a learnable lesson for young women out there. Tie in the fact that Dakota Fanning, who herself is a young up and coming actress, is portraying her and it becomes obvious why the role and lesson works on a number of levels.

The same can be said for Kristen Stewart playing Joan Jett. Jett is an extremely powerful woman and I'm glad to see her story getting told. Stewart does a reasonable job as Jett. She has Jett's mannerisms down flawlessly. I'm sure it was a big help to Stewart that Joan Jett was executive producer and on set to help. Stewart who has a massive following thanks to her Twilight fame also has the ability to turn a whole new generation of women on to a band that defined the idea of an all girl rock band. While The Runaways weren't a feminist band, they definitely helped pave a path for women in rock.

Being a rock biopic the film clearly covers the music of The Runaways and it does a solid job. The film follows the band from 1975 through 1977. From their first single 'Cherry Bomb' to their last big hit 'Neon Angles on the Road to Ruin.' We see the band in its inception all the way through to the break up. Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart both deserve praise because the girls do a powerful job of matching the same tenacity Currie and Jett delivered all those years ago. Fanning brings an energy to the role of Cherie Curry both in her singing abilities and acting. I was fairly impressed when she finally gets into her groove and really struts her singing voice.

The rest of the girls including Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton and Alia Shawkat also deserve praise but they are in limited performances and only really provide background vocals and figures to a story that revolves around Currie and Jett. Again, all the actress casted to play the Runaways are good, but it is Fanning and Stewart who run the show. It is worth mention another supporting performance. The Runaways would have never made it without the help of promoter Kim Fowley, who is played by the talented Michael Shannon in the 106 minute drama. Shannon delivers a more than polished performance as the larger than life persona who put together the all girl band that erupted on to the rock scene in the 1970's.

Rock n' roll biopics are not new by any means, but they do however introduce people to music and can deliver a poignant message. "The Runaways" does both of those things. It gives viewers a concentrated story. One that is easy to follow, provides a lesson and most of all, remains entertaining.