Runaways, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Kristin Stewart, Dakota Fanning. Rock & Roll biography. Written & directed by Floria Sigismondi.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The film follows two friends, Joan Jett (Kristin Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary group that paved the way for future generations of girl bands.† They 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 Ė and so do its two leads:† Joan is the bandís pure rockí ní roll heart, while Cherie, with her Valley Girl version of Brigitte Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.

PREVIEW REVIEW: In The Wild One, Marlon Brandoís biker rebel without a clue responds to, ďHey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?Ē with, ďWhatíve you got?Ē I suppose at one time or another, we are all drawn to rebels, whether itís James Dean, Jackson Pollack or Joan Jett. Maybe itís just the nature of man to rebel against something. In this dramatization, both Joan and Cherie come from broken and dysfunctional homes, offering up some reasoning for their discontent with the society. So this isnít a judgment call: I havenít walked in their shoes. Itís just that our pop culture seems crowded with angst-ridden artistes and, for me, these on screen protagonists seldom offer satisfying relief; they merely wallow in their world weariness.

I appreciate the provocative power of art when it forces us to examine wrongdoing, but I have always preferred artistry that uplifts the spirit rather dwelling on the theme of revolution for revolution sake. For sure, there comes a time when we have to rebel against tyranny and evildoing, but we must be careful about personal rebelliousness. Unchecked, it can be used by Satan to put walls up between us and our fellow man and distance us from our Creator.

The characters in the movie flee their staid existence through excess: sex (with each other), drugs until they canít reason, and attitude, oh, with lots of attitude. But what is the outcome? They survive, but the film doesnít stress how fortunate they were to have survived. Nor do we learn anything of significance concerning the real Joan and Cherie all these years later. Yes, Joan Jett still performs and Cherie uses a chainsaw to create figurines, but what price have they paid for their walk on the wild side?

The film demands your attention due to the performances, but even there I had a problem. Is there no subject Dakota Fanningís parents say no to when their daughter chooses a script? Sheís only sixteen, yet sheís been involved in some pretty steamy or sick situations throughout her short career. Here she is paraded around in underwear as if ready to pose for a porno magazine. She plays out sexual situations with another female and sheís seen doing drugs.

Iíve known people who did drugs, and while they didnít die, their minds have never been totally clear. The drugs left a residue that remained throughout their lives. They paid a price. Again, I ask, what price has Joan Jett paid? Or Cherie Currie? You wonít learn it from this film.

DVD alternative: Smile. Mika Boorem portrays Katie, a self-centered teen struggling with adolescent issues and beginning to sense that there is more to life than whatís offered by her preferential world. When a favorite teacher presents an opportunity to get involved with a charitable group, she hastily agrees to travel to China as a volunteer, not realizing that this trip will change her life. Smile is rated PG-13 (a mother discusses sexual matters with her teen daughter and supports her decision to get birth control pills; there is a make-out scene, but the girl realizes that she is not ready for sex and puts an end to it; though some may be concerned with the brief sexuality, the filmmakers felt the issue needed to be addressed and does it with discretion.)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several crude sexual conversations.

Obscene Language: I caught over 70 obscenities, mostly the f-word.

Profanity: Interestingly, despite all the raw language, I didnít hear a misuse of Godís name or Christís.

Violence: None

Sex: Though the sexual situations donít become overly graphic, they are filmed in an erotic way, with slow motion and tight close-ups of the girlsí lips meeting as they kiss; interesting that an underage girl in a major motion picture can play out scenes that a porno producer would go to jail for; ah, art.

Nudity: Brief topless female nudity as a girl is seen trying to undo her top for her boyfriend, but she passes out on the bed, with the t-shirt covering her head.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several coarse sexual discussions; we hear a teen girl talking in the shower about masturbation as another girl sits on the toilet instructing her.

Drugs: Smoking, drinking and lots of drugs Ė to get up and to come down.

Other: The lure of drugs is not diminished by this production and sex with the same gender is photographed in such a way as to make it acceptable for young, confused teenagers.

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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