Top 10 reasons to see “The Runaways”

Hello Daddy, hello Mom: You need to take your kids to see The Runaways.

The film is rated R in the United States, but I’ve seen it three times, and I think that, with supervision, the movie is appropriate for 14- and 15-year-olds. Use your best judgment knowing your own kids, of course. See it yourself first. You are the parent, and you are in charge of your kids. Not me. But if I was in charge of the ratings board, I would have given The Runaways a PG-15 rating. (Which doesn’t exist, I know, but I think it should, especially in this case.)

  • There are two scenes of brief nudity, both of which are non-sexual and are mostly done for comedic effect. I think you’re allowed to do that in a PG-13 movie.
  • There is a lot of foul language, but simply hearing foul language isn’t going to turn your child into a degenerate.
  • These girls had a lot of sex at 15, and, while not downplayed in the movie, the sex is all implied. The only semi-explicit sex scene in the film does not involve any of the main girls.
  • These girls drank a lot and did a lot of drugs. But I don’t feel that the movie glorified the drug use or downplayed its negative effects. Kids drink and do drugs today, and pretending that they don’t will not protect them in any way. Talk to your children. Show them that they don’t have to self-medicate to find happiness. Show them that you love them. Help them to find what they’re good at and teach them how to dream. Teach them how to own their mistakes and fix them. And please forgive them.

*End of Public Service Announcement* On to the fun stuff!

Top 10 reasons to see The Runaways:

1. The music. Fans of The Runaways and Joan Jett are going to scream. (Not out loud, you’re in a movie theater!) Original versions of many Runaways songs are everywhere, and they sound awesome in a theater. Don’t rush out as soon as the credits roll. Stay until the last one, because if you don’t, you’re going to miss some great songs. I bounced and whispered along to the words. It would be nice to be able to see this movie in a room full of die-hards so I wouldn’t have to be so quiet.

2. Kristen Stewart. Kristen was born to be Joan Jett. One of my favorite Kristen scenes involves other characters talking in the foreground while Kristen’s Joan Jett is in the back of the room simply stretching and fidgeting. Kristen’s mannerisms as Joan are completely natural, and nothing seems like an afterthought or a put-on. Her singing and performances are authentic. Her voice does not match Joan’s tone-for-tone, but I didn’t want it to. I wanted to be able to hear Kristen’s inner Kristen-ness come through in her voice, and I did. A perfect sound-a-like performance would’ve been a slap in the face to everything The Runaways ever stood for. No one can honor Joan Jett’s individuality without first embracing her own. And Kristen definitely does. But there are a few things that Kristen does do spot-on, and they give me chills every time. A simple “How ya doin’?” gives me goosebumps.

3. Dakota Fanning. Dakota blew me away, pure and simple.  I can’t explain how without spewing a bunch of worn-out cliches, so I won’t. Her “Cherry Bomb” performance was brilliant. I wanted to clap and cheer with the crowd in the movie, but I couldn’t, so I just bounced up and down a lot. See #1.

4. The 1970’s. If you miss high-waist bell bottoms and polyester, this movie is for you. The film’s graininess puts you straight back to 1976. This is a great period film.

5. Stella Maeve. Sandy West’s story is the most tragic of all the Runaways, and is not depicted in the film in any detail. But every time Stella’s Sandy was on the screen I wanted to hug her. The pure joy she expressed while playing the drums was completely infectious, and I get the same feeling watching footage of the real thing. Read more about the real Sandy West HERE. Remember what I said earlier about talking to your kids? DO IT.

6. Hannah Marks. Hannah plays a friend of Joan’s, and she doesn’t have much screen time. But I thought she was cute.

7. Water guns and shower heads. *snicker*

8. Michael Shannon. Michael plays the creepy side of Kim Fowley well, but if you really pay attention, you can also see a bruised tenderness underneath. This film, as in real life, has no comic book villians. Just ordinary people, trying to be noticed in a world that ignores them. And succeeding.

9. The humor. Not everything in this movie is dark and depressing. I laughed out loud a lot, and so did the rest of the theater. Michael Shannon’s Kim Fowley delivers most of the funny lines, but the girls are funny too. See #7.

10. THE MUSIC. No, I didn’t get high and forget that I already mentioned this. You need to hear this music, and you need to hear it in a theater. Despite the drugs, despite the sex, and despite the truck-driver cussing, these girls COULD PLAY. They’ve written some of the best rock-n-roll songs in the world, and this movie does an excellent job of celebrating that. Joan Jett’s passion for music gave her the drive she needed to eventually kick booze and drugs. She has never lost her focus on her guitar, and this film portrays that very well. The Runaways, as in real life, has no comic book heroes. Just ordinary people, trying to be noticed in a world that ignores them. And succeeding.

19 thoughts on “Top 10 reasons to see “The Runaways”

  1. Pingback: Top 10 reasons to see The Runaways: « Dw*world's Blog

  2. i read the script i saw a few scenes , but i didnt see the movie yet .. fuc* the distributor changed the release date to may 20th .. the movie could be pg-13

  3. I was waiting for your review so badly because I need to read the opinion of someone who’s actually involved with Joan’s and The Runaway’s career and thank you for doing this!
    Your review is one of the best I’ve read so far and I reeeeally can’t wait to see the movie!

    xx, C.

  4. From reading all the reviews I kind of expected the movie to be good but I was completly blown away by so many things esp the acting and music.

    I only found out about TR when I heard Kris was doing it and since then have become obsessed with them.

  5. Agree! After I read the script I was pretty sure I would be disappointed in the movie, however…. I.LOVED.IT so much!! For all of the reasons you mentioned above (great list!), and for he energy and spirit the film had. Such great spirit, it seemed to inspire everyone I know to live their life without so many rules.

    (Oh…. and I personally thought the costume designer, Carol Beadle, did an amazing job, down to the tiniest detail. Can’t wait to see how her work is going to influence the way lots of girls dress this year. 🙂 )

  6. ****SPOILER ALERT****
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    OMG, the scene with Kim on the phone with Joan, “Kim, we’re hungry, send money, I’m serious, we’re hungry”, and the comotion going on with the desk, lol. Kristen was stellar, it was as if you were watching Joan (although, I knew it wasn’t, lol). I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like it, wrong, I loved it.. Wow, wow, wow, loved it, I wish it was longer.

  7. Hubby and I drove 180 miles round trip today to see The Runaways — it was AWESOME. Kristen and Dakota were fantastic as Joan and Cherie. Since I’m old as dirt, I actually remember hearing their music on the radio when I was in high school but hadn’t heard the story about the group before. Great movie, great actors! (Only one minor complaint: I understand about drugs and alcohol being part of the rock and roll history, but did we really need to see the showerhead scene? TMI! lol)

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Reasons To See ‘The Runaways’ (Besides The Fact That Kristen Rocks) · HollywoodForever

  9. JJElectric, sometimes, I think we’re cut from the same cloth. It’s amazing how you express exactly what I’m feeling in the very same way I would have If I’d taken the time. Your review is SPOT ON and every single thing you said is exactly how I feel about this movie. Especially Stella and Sandy. At one point, watching her lay and that killer smile, almost like a teddy bear (a thin, cute one) I fell i love with her in so many ways. You can’t take your eyes off of her when she’s on screen…When she pushed that big fat asshole guy, I was doing that laughing-crying thing inside (thank GOD I can partially control my emotions, or they would have had to carry me out. I left the theater (all three times) with a lingering haze that took several hours to go away. I didn’t want to hear loud Runaways music… I enjoyed the quiet innocence these girls lost.

  10. In today’s homogenized media culture, there are no authentic mainstream female musicians for our young girls to model themselves after so taking your older teens to see this film is a great idea. A disclaimer however – parents need to sit down and speak to their kids about the 70’s and the reasons behind the drug culture that was so prevelant at that time. Kids will need help picking up the correct message from the film so they won’t see only the excesses of the time.

    • I agree — except that I think it’s a myth that drugs only happened in the 70’s. Everybody assumes that only rock stars get high, but kids in suburbia get high, even today. Parents should talk to their kids about drugs and sex, not just drugs and sex in the 70’s.

  11. Pingback: Why “The Runaways” flopped, part one « Born to be Jetthead

  12. Thank you so much for posting this stuff on The Runaways. This movie is extremely good, very underrated- and I swear it deserves awards- Kristen, Dakota and Michael deserve to be awarded for their performances alone- especially Kristen.

    I never realized how immensely likeable Kristen was as an actress until I watched this movie (bearing in mind I had already seen her in the Twilight films and didn’t care much for her one way or the other)- now I can call myself a hardcore fan. Similarly, although I had known about Joan Jett, the film made me realize just how fantastic she and her first band really were. Now, I can say that having read the script, Neon Angel and watched the movie at least 100 times, I am a hardcore fan : )

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