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TV & Video Review: ‘The Runaways’ (Blu-ray)

It’s unfortunate the days of all-girl rock bands appears to have gone the way of vinyl records: out of style. But, for a cool rocker chick to admire, no young woman needed to go further than Joan Jett with her tough attitude, targeted determination and rocking tunes. With The Runaways, Jett was one of the “queens of noise” in the 70’s.

The film follows two friends, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), as they rise from rebellious Southern Californian kids to rock stars of the now legendary group that paved the way for future generations of girl bands. Joan and Cherie fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), who turns the group into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the bands pure rock n roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.

Fanning is mostly known for roles as a child actor alongside the likes of Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro. She was consistently lauded for being able to hold her own next to these Hollywood heavyweights, but one always wondered if her career would survive puberty or if she’d fall off the radar like Shirley Temple. Fanning proves here that she’s going nowhere and her career will flourish for as long as she’d like. She works the good girl turned bad angle very well.

It would appear Stewart vied for this role to get as far away from her Twilight character as possible – and there could be no one more opposite to Bella Swan than Joan Jett. While it may have something to do with the personal coaching Stewart received from Jett on set, the young actress’ portrayal of the rock legend is quite good.

In addition, both actresses lent their voices to the soundtrack for authenticity; thankfully, even though they don’t sound exactly like The Runaways, they do sound credible. Furthermore, the film score is not just a bunch of Runaways’ hits, as there’s an array of other acts from the period as well.

Special features include: commentary with Jett, Stewart and Fanning and “Plugged In: Making the Film,” a behind-the-scenes featurette.

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