In this partially fictional account, The Runaways charts the history of the first all-girl hard-rock band, from its formation by the talented-but-sleazy Kim Fowley (Shannon), through the band’s meteoric rise overseas, lead singer Cherie Currie’s (Fanning) drug problems, and its eventual disbanding. An interesting but flawed look at a pioneering group.
This movie excels in the subjects of sex, drugs and rock & roll, but it’s the parts in between that hamper the film. When it focuses on the music, The Runaways is at its most absorbing, delving into the relationships and turmoil of this up-and-coming group. Fanning and Stewart, while not singers themselves, do a good job of emulating Currie and Jett and breathe a lot of life into their respective roles, as does Shannon as their Svengali-like producer. His training sessions with the band are very fun to watch. Unfortunately, when the focus leaves the music and turns towards Cherie’s personal life (the movie is largely based on her autobiography Neon Angels), the script’s deficiencies are the most obvious and the film grinds to a halt. The characterizations of Cherie’s family are noticeably thin (as are the other three members of the band, coincidentally), making it hard to maintain interest. These sections tend to meander a bit, which makes the ending seem that much more abrupt and awkward. A good rock movie dragged down by backstage problems.