Movie Review: The Runaways (2010)

Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in The Runaways
Photo: Apparition

Hey, did you know rock bands do drugs, get in fights and have sex in crazy places all while the band gets crazy jealous of the fame the lead singer is achieving? Okay, maybe not all rock bands do those things, but you can bet your ass if they want to get a movie made about them they better have done those things, or at least say they've done those things. Guess what, that's exactly what you get with The Runaways, a film that feels like a stepping stone into puberty for Dakota Fanning (quite literally in fact) and a chance for Kristen Stewart to brood on screen with a character that calls for the actress's expected dead-eyed acting chops.

The Runaways
Grade: C-

The Runaways"The Runaways" was directed by Floria Sigismondi and is rated R for language, drug use and sexual content - all involving teens. The running time is . This film does not yet have a domestic distributor.

The cast includes Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Stella Maeve, Riley Keough and Nick Eversman.

The Runaways tells the story of the formation and subsequent downfall of the titular all-girl rock band with an emphasis on relationship between lead singer Cherie Currie (Fanning) and Joan Jett (Stewart). Currie comes with family trouble, Jett comes without a family. Jett wants to form a band, Currie just wants to do anything other that what she's doing now.

When Jett meets the eccentric producer Kim Fowley, played by the lively Michael Shannon in the one performance that truly stands out in the film, he sees talent and in the search for a lead singer they find 15-year-old Currie in a nightclub and the band is formed. "Jailbait!" he exclaims and continues his exuberance as they practice in a trailer in the woods (seriously). Give me anger, give me sex! Fowley growls as the band practices and the Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Cherry Bomb is born and the rest of the film stutters right along with it.

It's unfortunate the rest of the film can't live up to what is a rather interesting start as it slowly devolves into every rock story ever told on film. I'm not saying none of this happened, and perhaps it happened as exactly portrayed in this film, but that doesn't mean it's necessary a movie be made about it.

Music video director Floria Sigismondi does just fine, working with a script she wrote and she gets just about as much as she can from everyone involved, but when the material asks for little more than angry teens trying to act like grown-ups it's not exactly as if we are walking into new territory. I would have also loved to ask her what need is fulfilled when she starts the film with a focused drop of menstrual blood seeping into the concrete.

As I said in the opening, this film serves as Dakota Fanning's literal leap into puberty, but do we need physical evidence of it in the first frame? Had Sigismondi been more interested in exploring this aspect of the story in a similar artful fashion then perhaps some significance could be found here. Instead it comes off as the first slit of the wrist as this film dies a slow suicide into boredom.

Nothing is gained by watching The Runaways, but perhaps some good can come out of it. Dakota Fanning was practically raised on the big screen and this is a chance for her to begin her steps into the second stage of her acting career. Outside of Michael Shannon stealing every frame of the film he occupies you get the feeling this, while an acting misstep, is Fanning's coming out party after the unfortunate Push as she hopefully moves on to bigger and better things and finds similar success to what she found as a youngster.


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  • rahel

    what about Kristen Stewart? do you have any comment for her? is she good in this movie? cause it looks like this movie focused on Dakota....and the review about her performance

    ps : sorry if make a wrong English :)

  • johnny

    Im kind of confused. your grade says C- but the banner on the side says C+. WHich is is? And what about Stewart? Did she do well outside of Twilight? I kind of like her as an actress so i want to know how she did. Thanks

  • mfan

    For people who like Kristen Stewart, O.K. And even for Dakota Fanning fans, whatever. But there is something seriously wrong with making a biopic type movie about a currently active performer! No matter how good or bad this movie is, I would suggest you exercise your option to rent "Light of Day" with Joan Jett. A biopic with Joan Jett actually in it!!! That way you can see why she was/is so popular. The girl has a real star quality that exceeds anything Dakota, or Kristen will ever be able to match. I might suggest buying "Urgh! A Music War" as a better way to spend a couple of hours. Only one performance by Joan Jett on it, but it was when she was 21 years old. Or just watch her on some YouTube videos.

    • mfan

      Maybe I will give this film a chance after all. I heard Joan Jett executive produced it. At first, I wasn't sure how to feel about that, but a dollar is a dollar, I guess. My alarm clock used to be set to wake me to Lita Ford's Kiss Me Deadly album.

      • mfan

        Unfortunately, I would have to travel 120 miles to see this movie, and it's PTA is not looking good for expansion. At least I can just rent the DVD to see if it's worth buying.

  • rahel

    Joan Jett is the executive producer of this movie .... she is with Kristen everyday during the making of this movie, Kristen and Joan learned songs together and I heard before filming, they have spent new year's eve together...and I've heard once Joan Jett talked about she is a left handed guitar player and Kristen is right handed or otherwise, I'm not sure about that..but, if I'm not wrong she said that Kristen changed to be a left handed player or otherwise for this movie..
    well, that's what I know, I've seen a lot of their picture together on the set .... :)

    sorry (again) if I make a wrong English :D

  • Suz

    I saw The Runaways yesterday - I love Kristen Stewart, and also Dakota. But this movie (if you can call it that) was more like a documentary, and not a good one. Kristen and Dakota were excellent, but the subject matter did not suit them. Playing people who are real - and still alive is a next to impossible challenge. I know there was a story to tell, but this movie did not tell it. Instead it focused on every seedy aspect of life you can think of. They went for shock value. Not easy to watch. Kristen is much better in roles where she can be herself, or has the freedom to interpret the role she is playing in her own way. And so is Dakota. Don't waste your money on this one.

  • http://nãosei pietro

    I think the runaways is a very good movie especially with Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart they are good actresses.

  • Doug Lynner

    Some of your readers may find my recent radio show, Tribute To The Runaways, an interesting listen. It explores the band's music, solo music and bands that have benefited from their groundbreaking work. It can be streamed for free at