Sure, fair question. Honestly? Not that great. Not horrible! Actually, lots of great elements. Just… put it this way: I looked up a bunch of reviews, and the translation of the star ratings amounts to roughly “fair and a half.” That would describe it.
It’s really a drag, because the Runaways story is so fantastic, I keep expecting someone to really nail it. There have been books, a documentary, certainly plenty of articles. I had thought that this film would do it. Not so much. The problem isn’t quibbling with details. It’s more like the entire thing is like skipping rocks. Big chunks of info are just not there. Maybe there’s just too much to tell? Who knows, maybe someday this guy will come out with something killer.
But lest I discourage your attendance (!), here’s what’s kind of fantastic about it:
1) The work of the stylists and set designers is incredible. This isn’t a slightly modernized, glossy ’70s. This is an ugly, grimy ’70s, where the platform shoes were actually terrible looking and home decor was a cheap melange of brown and orange. Hideous but flawless.
2) From a visual standpoint, it’s far richer than you’d expect from a film made for less than $10 million. Great cinematography packed with color and contrast. Best of all are, without a doubt, the shows and performances. Lord knows we’ve all suffered through terrible, hokey “underground rock club” scenes in films, but these gigs look and feel exactly right. It’s loud and dirty, pitch black in the corners and crammed with high style rockers.
3) Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Pretty astounding. Considering that I know her as a bulgy-eyed, quasi-adult eight-year-old chirping on late night talk shows, I was floored. You won’t even recognize her. Hardest of any role in this movie was getting Cherie right, vocally and visually. The Runaways are thought of as sexy jailbait, but in reality it was not a male fantasy. It’s ugly and vulgar, and Cherie had a very weird vocal delivery. Knowing all that, watch the video below. Crazy, right?
4) Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley. Holy crap. I’m burying the lead here, because this one portrayal is basically the DeNiro/Raging Bull of rock movies, I’m tellin’ ya. Shannon’s already made a name for himself playing slightly unhinged characters, but the way he nails Fowley is incredible. It’s more than just nutty outfits and the ranting and raving; he actually captures Fowley’s vampirish combo of megalomania, lasciviousness, desperate greed and raw ambition. The real Kim Fowley, taken as a whole, is a complete creep in my opinion, but I’m forced to admit his “vision” has generally been beyond reproach. As a result, Shannon gets the movie’s best lines, whether he’s putting the band through boot camp, coaching them about touring, or manipulating recording sessions. And let’s just say that when he answers the phone hanging upside down while reading The Art of War, you have to wonder if it’s virtually documentary.
Go see it, and cross your fingers for a film version of Ozzy’s book!