Sunday, 12 May 2013

No.97 : The Runaways

 The Runaways at the IMDb

Rock bio-pic time now as the little known band ‘The Runaways’ get the Hollywood treatment in this by the numbers effort.

It’s the seventies in Los Angeles and punk is taking off. Joan Jett is keen to get in on the action and harasses record producer Kim Fowley for a deal. He’s hesitant at first but when he spots 16 year old Cherie Currie he starts to put together the band. As you’d expect the band start out rubbish, get a bit better and into drugs before jealousy and musical differences break them up.

The two leads played by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning don’t convince as the trailer trash bad girls they are meant to be and although they make a good effort I didn’t buy into either. Michael Shannon who is great in ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is miscast as the producer and his mad eyes and dominant presence are shamefully underused.

I did like the grungy 70s vibe and some of the music was good although not that of the band, which was a total racket.  The characters were thinly drawn with troubles at home and being an outsider the usual suspects when a bit of depth was sought. Some bits like Joan pissing on some guitars didn’t add to the appeal of the film  and the whole rites of passage idea was rushed and unconvincing.

The three acts were well defined with the ‘rise to stardom’ bit overlong. Basically you get an hour of them fighting and singing in a caravan before ten minutes of modest success and drug use before a half an hour autopsy of what might have been. The formula will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a rock film and you knew the writing was on the wall as soon as Dakota got a solo photo shoot.

There will be a certain dirty old man element who’ll love this film with lots of shots of the teen girls dancing around in their pants. There was also a strong lesbian vibe too with Joan in her leather pants quite keen on the pre-pubescent Fanning. I found some of it more creepy than sexy and I doubt it was coincidence that Gary Glitter featured on the soundtrack.

I read that the girls played their own instruments and did their own singing and that would certainly suggest they made the right choice in acting over music! The only decent song was ‘Cherry Bomb’ and even that’s down to the hook alone. I see that the band never had any real hits and you have to wonder why they merited a bio-pic given their story was so run of the mill. In ‘Wayne’s World’ terms ; they’re not worthy!

As the film draws to a close there is the inevitable fall out and the band starts to splinter. Joan forms her own band and has a hit with ‘I love rock and roll’ the only familiar song from the whole enterprise. As they go in different directions and have the odd awkward reunion you have to wonder why you should be interested and by the time the film ends you certainly won’t be.

 THE Tag Line - Runaway From This One!  53%

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