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‘The Runaways’ Movie Review

There’s an ass load of hype surrounding biopic about the Runaways that’s in theaters March 19. With ‘Twilight’ teens Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning — she of the saucer-sized doe eyes — starring as guitar goddess Joan Jett and and sex kitten frontwoman Cherie Currie, respectively, this isn’t your average mall teen’s rock drama! The Runaways may have been jailbait glam punk, but most metal fans have a soft spot for the Queens of Noise.

Many may be tuning in to see the quick make out session between Stewart and Fanning, but the film does more alluding to and glossing over the nature of the pair’s relationship than it does dissecting it. There’s always tension among singers and guitarists in the rock pantheon, and it was no different for Jett and Currie. But the film doesn’t explore that as in-depth as it could and I’d have liked it to.

It’s disappointing that bassist Jackie Fox isn’t even mentioned by name and even though Fox was booted during the band’s Japanese tour, she’s just an anonymous background figure here. Even Lita Ford – who went on to enjoy a thoroughly metallic career herself- is window dressing, serving to cause some strife with Currie, who quickly ascends to the role of magazine cover darling and interview focal point in the rock press.

The most moving parts of the film are when director Flora Sigismondi captures Jett’s vulnerability and how she’s just like us, only she’s the one holding an axe. Stewart nails Jett’s hunched gait and plays tougher than the leather get ups her character sports. But when Currie gets fed up with manager/Svengali Kim Fowley (an almost too-over-the-top Michael Shannon) and says ‘sayonara’ to the band, citing a need to be with her family and get her life back, Jett whispers, “This is my life” and we believe her. Not because we have the benefit of information that Jett went onto enjoy a hugely successful career fronting the Blackhearts, but because Stewart gets that point across. It reminded me of that old Tower Records (RIP) mantra: No music, no life.

The film captures the gaudy decor and style of the ’70s, from the polyester rugs to the flashy silver eye makeup the girls sport. Despite some of the key aspects that are skimmed, the movie allows your inner rocker to live vicariously through Jett and Currie, Stewart and Fanning. It made me want to go out and get a Daisy Rock guitar.

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