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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘The Runaways’ perfectly captures the ’70s

    Kristen Stewart

    ‘The Runaways’

    River Road Entertainment

    Released April 9, 2010

    Score: B-

    It was a time when girls didn’t play electric guitar, glam rock blasted in the nightclubs and Farrah Fawcett was everyone’s hair-speration. It was the 1970s.

    But 17-year-old Joan Jett wasn’t pleased with the way things were. Leather-bedecked with a shag haircut, she wasn’t a cookie-cutter aspiring musician. She wanted to make gritty, honest rock ‘n’ roll that perfectly expressed the frustrations of being a teenager in a turbulent era.

    Thus begins “”The Runaways.”” Jett (Kristen Stewart) wants nothing more than to become a rock sensation, eventually cornering flamboyant producing legend Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) and convincing  him to help her create an all-girl band in a men’s industry. The two scour the clubs looking for the final ingredient: a sexy lead singer. They pick up 15-year-old Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) based on her looks — “”a little Bowie, a little Bardot”” —  without knowing if she could even sing. Hmm, picking talent off of someone’s looks. Well, we all do it at the bars.

    Thankfully, Currie can really knock out a tune. After paying their dues and becoming experts at dodging audience projectiles, the band goes on a worldwide tour that plunges the girls into the stardom they never expected. Tight camera shots and psychedelic sets accentuate the craziness and trials of growing up on the road. While the traveling montages are fascinating, the heart of the movie is the unlikely friendship between Jett and Currie.

    The costuming and art direction honor the band and the time period. If David Bowie and a disco ball had a baby who then vomited glitter onto a pair of platform shoes, you’d get the outfits the girls wear during the film. Google Joan Jett or Cherie Currie and you’ll see the exact same costumes, whether metallic jumpsuits or scandalous lingerie.

    The acting in “”The Runaways”” has its ups and downs. Instead of the supercharged and growling sex kitten that was Cherie, Fanning looks like a baby prostitute with heavy eye makeup and too much rouge. Trying too hard to be edgy and shake her child-actress status, she delivers a shaky performance.

    The movie should have focused upon the development of Jett, as Stewart positively nailed her performance. Stewart clearly studied Jett’s mannerisms, perfecting her intense stage presence. Rumor has it that when the real Joan Jett listened to Stewart’s singing, Jett mistakenly thought she was listening to herself. And gasp! Bella Swan drops the F-bomb. Who would’ve believed it?

    While the Runaways broke all the norms, the movie based on the band doesn’t. It’s not a biopic and it’s not an in-depth analysis of the dynamics between two rock ‘n’ roll goddesses. But it is an entertaining showbiz story with a few amazing performances. So rock on, Stewart. Rock on.

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