Earlier this week, the musical snuff film that is The Runaways graced retail outlet shelves. I had a chance to catch The Runaways at SXSW, but since Angela wrote the review, I never got to express my feelings about the movie. Away from the mystique that comes with the red carpets and flash bulbs I wondered if The Runaways could hold it’s steam, and I’m happy to say it did. Being a musician, I’ve always been enthralled by films about drugged-out, glorious rock stars and for the most part that’s what I thought I would get with The Runaways. I mean, come on, a film starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart can’t be that raw and gritty, oh how was I wrong.
The Runaways is as raw and dirty as it gets placing no glitz or glam into the story, or if they do it’s never in a good light. This is the thing I love most about the film, it’s real life on the big screen. If you have never heard of The Runaways then this film is the best way to have your proverbial ‘cherry popped.’ The film follows Joan Jett and Cherie Currie as they rise and fall from fame. Joan is a rebellious teenage girl that wants to start an all-girl band and shake things up when it comes to the world’s thoughts of a woman. Cherie is a lost girl dealing with an alcoholic father and a mother that ran out on her. For Cherie, the band was the best escape from an already shitty existence. The rest is rock and roll history, a short gasp that made quite the impact.
This gasp translates well from the big screen right to your living room. Like the band themselves, the film had a short stay in theaters and a fast sprint to DVD where I couldn’t be more happy to watch it again. Besides the film, it also has a great commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Just hearing Joan point out inconsistencies and the things she loves about the film is intriguing. It’s not just interesting listening to Joan, but hearing Dakota and Kristen talk about this big step in their careers is equally intriguing.
This is also what makes the movie so special, the fact that Dakota and Kristen are making such a career statement in the same vain as The Runaways. It’s time that Hollywood and the public take them serious as the women they have become. This statement rings out even louder for Dakota as she shreds apart her child career with the first drop of blood dripping down her leg in the opening scene. For Kristen, in my eyes this film got me off the fence about her acting ability. Showing that when the material is there and she is passionate about it she can deliver a great performance.
Besides the commentary, we have two behind the scenes featurettes. One titled The Runaways is a complete throwaway and more of a extended trailer than an actual special feature. On the other hand, Plugged in: Making the Film gives you the behind the scenes look that you really want with a film like this with interviews with everyone from Cherie Currie to director Floria Sigismondi. The only thing missing is on-camera interviews with Joan Jett. While I would have loved to see more from Joan, the commentary makes up for what the on-camera interviews are lacking. As far as special features go I would have liked more deleted scenes and usually I hate that part of a DVD but hearing about everything that was cut only further pushed my curiosity to see it for myself.
Overall, this is one of my favorite films of the year and a must own for anyone who loves Joan Jett and The Runaways, or just films about music. The film definitely holds up with multiple views and will find itself spinning in my DVD player for a while. So go right now and pickup this movie up, ignore the hideous box art and press play and you won’t be disappointed. I give The Runaways a strong BUY IT!
By Ryan Davis