The Runaways is a 2010 American drama film about the 1970s rock band of the same name written & directed by Floria Sigismondi which is based on the book "Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway" by the band's original lead vocalist Cherie Currie.
The film starred Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton and Michael Shannon
It was first released on January 24, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival and was given a wide theatrical release on March 19, 2010.
The film depicts the formation of the band in 1975 and focuses on the relationship between Cherie Currie and Joan Jett until Currie's departure from the band. It grossed about $4.7 million worldwide and received generally favorable reviews from critics.
Plot[edit | edit source]
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) is a teenager in Los Angeles, California who desperately wants to be a rock star. She idolizes David Bowie and cuts her hair and dons make-up so she will resemble Bowie's character Aladdin Sane.
At her high school talent show, she lip syncs to "Lady Grinning Soul" and despite some hecklers in the audience, she wins.
Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) is a teenager who also dreams of rock stardom. At a club one night, she meets record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) and talks about starting an all-girl rock band. Kim is interested & introduces Joan to Sandy West (Stella Maeve), a drummer.
Joan and Sandy become friends and start jamming when Kim suggests that they recruit a hot blonde in the vein of Brigitte Bardot. Kim and Joan comb Los Angeles' clubs to look for hot blondes and discover Cherie. They invite her to audition at a trailer park in the San Fernando Valley and to prepare a Suzi Quatro song to perform at her audition.
Cherie learns Peggy Lee's "Fever" instead and goes to audition, but the band is disappointed at her choice of song. Kim and Joan then write "Cherry Bomb" on the spot for Cherie to audition with. Cherie sings it and, after improving, she becomes part of the band, named the Runaways joined by Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) on lead guitar and Robin (Alia Shawkat) on bass. (Robin is a fictional character created for the movie as a composite of the group's multiple bass players [5 overall and 3 during Cherie Currie's time with the band]).
The Runaways are soon signed to Mercury Records and release an album. Due to the album's success, they travel to Japan to play a concert. After their performance, Lita throws magazines at Cherie that have pictures of her. Cherie is shocked because she thought the articles were to cover the whole band.
As Lita, Cherie and Joan argue, overenthusiastic fans break through the window and chase the girls out of the building. Cherie's drug problems worsen. She overdoses in the hotel, collapses in an elevator and is sent to the hospital. Upon arriving back in the United States, Cherie begins to abuse her alcoholic father's painkiller medication.
At the studio recording their next album, Cherie has a mental breakdown and refuses to play. Lita insults her and though Joan defends her, Cherie quits the band. Joan is outraged and the Runaways are finished.
Cherie returns home while Joan starts her own band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Cherie collapses again in a phone booth in a supermarket parking lot. At the hospital, her twin sister Marie Currie visits her and tells her to straighten herself up.
A few years later, Cherie is working in a bakery and hears Joan's cover of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" on the radio and calls the station, where Joan is visiting for interviews. After an awkward conversation between Joan, Cherie, and radio host Rodney Bingenheimer (Keir O'Donnell), Cherie says her goodbyes and continues working, smiling when Joan's next song, "Crimson and Clover", comes on the radio.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie
- Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett
- Stella Maeve as Sandy West
- Scout Taylor-Compton as Lita Ford
- Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley
- Johnny Lewis as Scottie
- Alia Shawkat as Robin
- Riley Keough as Marie Currie
- Hannah Marks as Tammy, a groupie
- Keir O'Donnell as Rodney Bingenheimer
- Tatum O'Neal as Marie Harmon, a singer and Cherie's mother
- Brett Cullen as Mr. Currie, Cherie's father
- Brendan Sexton III as Derek
- Robert Romanus as the guitar teacher
- Nick Eversman as Ricky
Production[edit | edit source]
Music video director Floria Sigismondi made her feature film directorial debut with The Runaways."
She said that she established early in development that she "wanted to make it a coming-of-age story and not a biopic", saying, "What I loved about the Runaways was that they were doing things that girls weren't supposed to do, especially at 15. [...] I wanted to capture what it was like to be super-young and thrown in this rock 'n' roll world at a time when girls are just trying to figure out their bodies and create their identities."
She also "made it a very early decision that the story was going to be about Cherie [Currie] and Joan [Jett]. [...] And so that was a conscious effort, you know, to kind of really focus it and make it more personal on the two of them and their relationship."
Joan Jett was involved in the production as an executive producer, along with her manager Kenny Laguna. She said that "[she] felt confident with the level of success—the people at River Road, the Linsons [producers of the film]" and "knew [she] was in good hands" with Sigismondi writing and directing.
Sigismondi watched films from and set in the 1970s in developing the visual style of the film, saying, "I wanted to keep it very raw, so I shot on Super-16 and kept it kind of smoky. The color palette was designed to be a little more California Valley [bright colors] in the beginning and tougher and harder-looking near the end, sort of void of color. Japan's looking sort of trippy and metallic, and when they come back everything looks a little bit different."
Release[edit | edit source]
In December 2009, Apparition acquired distribution rights to "The Runaways" and it was slated to open nationwide March 19, 2010, in 1,400 theaters.
The film's world premiere took place on January 24, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival. Jett performed live in Park City the evening before the premiere and premiere night. Its Hollywood premiere took place on March 11, 2010 at the ArcLight Hollywood.
Box Office[edit | edit source]
"The Runaways" opened in the United States on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 244 theaters. Its opening weekend gross was $805,115—placing it at #18 at the box office—averaging $3,300 per theater, and most of its audience that weekend were 25 or older.
Apparition changed their marketing strategy due to the company's sudden shut down and reduced their planned wide release of 1,400 theaters to less than 300. It left theaters June 3, 2010 with a domestic gross of $3,573,673.
Variety reported that the film's underperformance at the box office could have been due to underfunded marketing and a failure to find an audience with either an age demographic that would remember the band or with fans of Kristen Stewart for her performance in Twilight.
Critical Reception[edit | edit source]
"The Runaways" received generally positive reviews from critics.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 69% of 177 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it got a rating average of 6.2 out of 10.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 65 based on 36 reviews. The performances of Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Michael Shannon were picked out as some of the film's strongest elements.
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that the film "doesn't always tell the literal truth" about the band, but felt that "[m]ore crucially, it conveys precisely what it was like to be young in the mid-1970s [...] And in getting that one thing right—in capturing that strange combination of despair and frustrated energy—it gets everything right."
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, praising the performances of Shannon, Stewart and Fanning while writing that the film's visuals and music "[helped] cover an underwritten script and many questions about the characters" which he found slimly developed.
Dennis Harvey of Variety gave the film a positive review, commenting that it "proves [to be a] conventionally enjoyable making-and-breaking-of-the-band saga" and goes on to compliment the cinematography and soundtrack.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times felt that Sigismondi "infuses crucial scenes with a rough, energetic spirit, and shows a willingness to accept the contradictions inherent in the material without prurience, moralism or too much sentimentality."
Even if The Runaways "hits a few too many standard music biography beats" and "may be a little too tame in the end", he added, "at its best it is just wild enough."
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B− and wrote that Sigismondi's "sixth sense for how the Runaways were bad-angel icons first and a rock 'n' roll band second" was the "most entertaining thing about" the film, which he described as a "highly watchable if mostly run-of-the-mill group biopic".
Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times felt that the film which she described as "a street-level snapshot" of the titular band's creation, should have featured Jett's story instead of staying "too narrowly focused" on that of Currie.
David Edelstein of New York Magazine gave the film a less positive review, commenting that "since the music itself is secondary, there’s not a lot to this story," and adding "It’s Fanning’s movie: You can taste the ex–child actor’s relish for playing jailbait."
Time praised the acting in the film, stating that Dakota Fanning "turns in a performance of startling maturity", "seduces us utterly" and is "like a mini-Meryl Streep".
Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club gave The Runaways a C, writing that the film is "numbingly familiar" and filled with "rock-movie clichés".
He concluded, "The Runaways were the first major all-girl punk band. In honor of this distinction, they’re now the first major all-girl punk band to inspire a bleary, excessive, and altogether mediocre big-screen biography."