105 min. minutes | Rated R
In terms of pop-music history, the Runaways were both a groundbreaking band—all-female, protopunk, launching Joan Jett's solo career, and presaging riot-grrrl—and a prefab novelty act whose greatest hit was "Cherry Bomb." They were loud, brash rock 'n' roll, not particularly concerned with subtlety, nuance, or smarts—and in that regard, The Runaways is exactly the biopic they deserve. It's no news that band biopics are perilously prone to cliché, but The Runaways cranks it to 11. Jett goes for guitar lessons: She wants to plug into an amp and learn to play like Chuck Berry—but her teacher tells her, "Girls don't play electric guitars," attempts to instruct her on an acoustic, and then stammers and sputters as she plugs into an amp anyway and proceeds to ROCK OUT! At one point, when she's feeling dejected, Jett walks around alone to the tune of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." DO YOU GET IT? To be fair, it's not like sexism wasn't/isn't a pervasive problem in the music world or that the Runaways weren't kicking down doors (even as they were being exploited as a novelty), and no doubt these incidents were inspired by real-life problems (the film is based on singer Cherie Currie's autobiography). But that doesn't make it any less trite on-screen.
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