Sunday, July 25, 2010

Half-ass Movie Review: The Runaways

This movie was not as bad as I expected it to be. I was mostly impressed that Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning were able to rise above themselves to inhabit Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Kudos to Stella Maeve as the adorable Sandy West and Scout Taylor-Compton as the strutting Lita Ford. And Michael Shannon was great as the "think with your dick" Kim Fowley. Best cameo: Robert Romanus (Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) as the guitar teacher who tries to teach Joan Jett "On Top of Old Smokey" and tells her that girls don't plug in, although Tatum O'Neil as Cherie's mom was also a  surprise. Likely because it's based on Currie's book and was executive produced by Jett, the movie unfairly gives Lita Ford short shrift, and oddly jumps from the moment Currie left the band to Jett's solo success with The Blackhearts, skipping a couple of years' worth of Runaways success without Currie.

The best thing about the movie was that it made me think back to my own initial exposure to girl rock bands. I wasn't really allowed to listen to rock until I was 10 in 1980, so the Go-Go's were really the first time I realized that girls could play all instruments. And I specifically remember that I was mightily intimidated by Joan Jett in her "I Love Rock n' Roll" video. I definitely didn't know any girls like her, and it would be years before I would learn about The Runaways. The movie also made me check out Suzi Quatro, a rockin' babe from Michigan!

Is the movie worth seeing? Sure. Is the music worth rocking out to? Hell yes!

The Runaways: "Cherry Bomb": The classic, performed live in Japan

Suzi Quatro "48 Crash": Look at that hair blow!

Joan Jett "Do You Wanna Touch Me": Yes, please.

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