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.