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Film / The Runaways

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"This isn't about women's lib. It's about women's libido"
Kim Fowley

The Runaways us a 2010 Coming of Age Story Biopic about the first all-female rock band The Runaways.

In the middle of the 1970s, Joan Jett is sick and tired of the gender divide in rock music and decides to form an all-girl rock band. Record producer Kim Fowley sees potential and assembles a line-up of aspiring female rock musicians. The only thing that's missing is a singer...which all changes when Fowley spots 15-year-old Cherie Currie in a night club. The Runaways are formed and it's a tale of fame, fortune, drug abuse, cattiness and lesbianism.

The film was primarily based on Cherie Currie's 1989 autobiography and so primarily focuses on the relationship between Cherie and Joan and events leading up to Cherie's departure from the band. It starred Dakota Fanning as Cherie and Kristen Stewart as Joan.

Provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Cherie's father. It runs in the family.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Kim wishes to portray the band this way. There are several scenes of Cherie, Joan and Sandy exploring their sexuality.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: Much fuss is made of Cherie's resemblance to Brigitte Bardot but Dakota Fanning doesn't quite fit the profile.
  • Bitch Alert: Lita Ford's introduction is her coldly telling Cherie they can't play the song she practiced.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Joan calls Kim while he's in the middle of having sex. Not only does he not stop, he manages to have a proper conversation with Joan.
  • Coming of Age Story
  • Composite Character: The character Robin is a combination of the different bass players the band had over the years.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Cherie's descent into drug addiction and mental breakdown. Though she's hardly completely innocent when the film starts.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sandy West gets a sizeable character introduction but then does hardly anything else in the entire film. This was enforced with Lita Ford, who refused to sign over her life story rights to the filmmakers.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": A last name rather than a first, Joan insists that her music teacher call her Joan Jett.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Joan is introduced in a clothing store being told to look in the women's section but then dumping all her change on the counter for a man's leather jacket.
  • Evil Mentor: Well, perhaps not entirely evil, but Kim is a colossal dick.
  • Fanservice: Played with. Despite appearing in her signature lingerie on stage, Cherie's look is called out on by Joan Jett and is presented as uncomfortable given her young age. However, it still gets a lot of camera focus and jiggle.
  • Five-Man Band: Excluding Robin who doesn't have any character at all...
  • Flat Character: Oh, Robin Robbins! She certainly... um... exists, doesn't she?
  • The Generic Guy: Robin who gets no lines and hardly any actual focus, likely due to being a Composite Character.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Cherie, though the opening scene of the film does suggest she isn't as innocent as she appears.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Duh, it's a movie about female rockers.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Kim Fowley's Jerkass behaviour is actually him toned down. He would specifically drive to high schools in search of teenage girls to hit on, and band member Jackie Fox (who isn't depicted here) later accused him of drugging and raping her at a party (though this movie was released before she went public with her accusations). Kari Krome, a songwriter who discovered Joan Jett while working for him, confessed to being physically and sexually assaulted by him multiple times when she was only fourteen.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Lita Ford is depicted as a secondary antagonist who's nothing but rude to Cherie. While she admitted she's never seen the movie, she maintains that even though she had a temper she would never have gotten violent.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Right down to the 1970s derelict state of the Hollywood Sign.
  • Important Haircut: Cherie cutting her hair into her signature style just before a school talent show. Also serves as an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Jail Bait Taboo: Cherie Currie was marketed as such, being only fifteen when the band was formed.
  • Lady Drunk: Cherie in a sad scene towards the end.
  • The Lad-ette: Joan - a lover of rock music and leather jackets. Additionally there's a scene where she pees on another band's instruments because they were rude to The Runaways.
  • Living Prop: Robin is there to stand in for the bassist they weren't depicting, and thus gets no characterization.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Enforced by Kim. Possible deconstruction too as the rest of the band are furious with Cherie for not publicising their music rather than her looks - added Squick for Cherie only being a teenager at the time.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In-universe. Cherie is described by Kim as "Bowie meets Bardot".
  • No Periods, Period: Averted in literally the first ten seconds of the film.
  • Parental Abandonment: Cherie's mother moves away to Indonesia and sends her daughters to live with their grandmother.
  • Produce Pelting: Part of Kim's preparation of the Runaways include ordering lackeys to throw things as the band rehearses.
  • Satellite Character: The rest of the band and character are portrayed in how they revolve around Cherie, Joan and Kim.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Joan maintains that the scene of a music teacher trying to get her to play "On Top of Old Smokey", insisting girls didn't play electric instruments, is 100% accurate.
    • Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart both signed the contract with their left hands in a scene, because Cherie Curie and Joan Jett are left-handed. Both Dakota and Kristen are right-handed.
    • Dakota Fanning also borrowed a belt from Cherie to wear in the film. Joan Jett confirmed that Cherie wore it numerous times when touring with The Runaways.
    • The scene where the boys throw objects at the girls rehearsing is 100% accurate. Joan Jett claims that Kim Fowley would often do those "heckler's drills" because she was too shy on stage.
    • Lita Ford is shown wearing a Cheap Trick t-shirt at one point. The Runaways had opened for them in Japan.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Cherie in the scene at the supermarket, though it likely comes from being very drunk.
  • The Svengali: Kim Fowley.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Sisters Cherie and Marie Currie.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboys Joan and Lita, and Girly Girls Cherie and Sandy.
  • Training Montage: Of the girls preparing for their first gig.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Cherie has to deal with a mother who abandons them for a life in Indonesia with a new husband, an alcoholic father who gets sick while she's on tour, Kim forcing her to sing explicit lyrics she's reluctant to, have objectifying photos taken for a magazine, aggravating her band members that she's getting all that extra attention, be hooked on drugs and alcohol before she's even eighteen, and walk out of the band after reading a public interview in which her manager is quoted saying the best thing for them is if she hung herself.
  • Visual Pun: look at the poster above.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A variation. The film skips ahead years later (1982 to be exact) to when Joan Jett has just released "I Love Rock And Roll" and shows Cherie working in a bakery. The end credits also tell us what happened since then.