Review: The Runaways

Sex, drugs and rock n’roll…but with girls. There’s not a lot of “new” to this take on rock bands but the kickass music, good acting and ballsy attitude make it a fun flick.

Based on Cherie Curry’s book on her experience as lead singer of the Runaways, this is a great snap shot of rebellion and females embracing sex as a means to get a point across. There certainly was room for more but it got its point across: girls can teach the boys about true rock n’roll. And yes, I’m off to get the soundtrack.

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THE SETUP:
Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Curry (Dakota Fanning) are two young women with crap homelives, no direction and tons of attitude. Enter slimy, but effective, music producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who teaches them to embrace their jailbait qualities while hardening them into a “they will throw crap at you” rock band. From here the all-girl group live the high life (read: drugs) with plenty of FU mind-set. It’s not long before the lifestyle becomes bigger than the music.

THE THOUGHTS:
This movie would live or die completely on the shoulders of its two you stars: Stewart and Fanning.

I’m one of those people that is really undecided on the talent of Kristen Stewart. Unfortunately my only exposure has only been the so-so Adventureland and the painful Twilight movies. Not much to go on. Well, she is fantastic as Joan Jett.

Further to that, Dakota Fanning is awesome. Nice to see a child star take their early talent and run with it rather than hitting big and disappearing (yes, you Haley Joel Osmet). And this is not your “little girl” from I am Sam, the sexy snears, the gartered onstage outfits and that growl of a voice. Yep, she sang the music too. I like her fine.

The only other person worth mentioning is Michael Shannon. After an oscar nominated performance in Revolutionary Road, he follows it up with a sex-driven, sleazy music producer that actually knows what he’s doing. He adds a lot to the narrative and what else do you want from your supporting actors?

The rest of the movie is pretty typical rock star fare. Unknowns, dealing with fame, drug use, implosion, redemption. I think every single biopic follows this formula and the only thing that can make it stand out is the performances and the tunes. You’ve got both here. I just wish they didn’t need so many “looking pensive” camera shots to break up the angst.

THE RUNAWAYS Rating:
 3 stars – good movie, take a friend. The story isn’t rocket science, it’s rock n’ roll. Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb. (that’ll make sense if you see the movie).

Coming Attractions:
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (release date: July 23, 2010) – OK, sure, it’s Michael Cera playing the same character in every single movie. I get that. But ignore that. This is the story of a boy who must win the heart of a girl by defeating her 9 evil ex-boyfriends…Mike Tyson PunchOut-style. Still thinking Michael Cera? Watch the trailer and you’re welcome.

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Random Recommendations
Panic Room (2002) – The David Fincher movie that isn’t Fight Club or Seven or Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Intense, and yet oddly very intimate thriller of a mother and daughter being terrorized in their own home. Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart and Forest Whitaker do the panicking.

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Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007) – Legendary director Sidney Lumet tells a story of two brothers trying to get ahead any way possible…even if it’s to rob their parents’ jewelery store. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are the kids, Albert Finney does the parenting and Marisa Tomei just gets better with age.

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 Review: The Runaways
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