FILM: The Stone and Lady GraGra Review: The Runaways
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Stone and Vickey (aka Gravity508 aka Lady GraGra) are the new Siskel and Ebert. You better recognize! This past Monday we both went to see the DC screening of The Runaways in Georgetown. Here are our thoughts:
“This isn’t about woman’s lib, but woman’s libido.”
Kinda figured that out from the opening scene of the film (Stone, don’t worry I won’t give it away). Director Floria Sigismondi, best known for her skills as a photographer/video director (Martina Topley-Bird, White Stripes, Sigur Ros), brings us the tale of four bitchin’ broads from California, with stars in their eyes and rock in their veins, The Runaways. The movie basically seems like the Cherie & Joan show –guess the blood is still bad with the other girls from the band.
Personally, I enjoyed the songs and the shoes (guess you know that I’m a woman..haha). However, everything else was filler (I’ve read the book). It wasn’t the worst of films, but it will make a great VH1 movies that rock.
Let’s get something straight: The Runaways were a failed band.
Yes, the concept was great. Take several outcast jailbait teens from broken homes, dress them scantily, and make them sing songs that would tease and titillate any horny man (or woman) in the audience. But the band itself faded into the background at the beginning of the 80s due to the departure of lead singer Cherie Currie and issues with their label and management.
The 2010 movie of the same name tries to bring the band’s significance to light, yet the film falls into most pitfalls that most music biopics are led into. The formation, fame, drugs, then breakup angle has been done many times before, and unfortunately the Runaways add nothing new to the discourse. Sure, there were some very creative filming angles, but the film itself doesn’t do much to spark interest in viewers who were unfamiliar with the group.
Add to that the fact that disputes with Lita Ford and bassist Jackie Fox and you get a film that really only focuses on the relationship of Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning). For the record, the performances of Stewart and Fanning were actually quite strong, and it was a pleasure to see them both break out of their average teen roles. Also of note was actor Michael Shannon, who stole the show playing eccentric record producer Kim Fowley. It was hands down the best performance and the best character in the film. (Maybe he needs a biopic?)
Even though The Runaways were an influential band, catapulting the careers of Lita Ford and Joan Jett, and breaking the glass ceiling that existed for female rock bands back in the day, the film was quite run of the mill. Director Floria Sigismondi hit the highlights of the band’s short career and highlighted their relevancy in the music scene, but stop short of making this a powerful and emotional flick. As Vickey says above, the movie comes off as VH1 movie material–not a bad thing at all–but it really could’ve been more.
The Runaways opens April 9th in select cities.