“The Runaways” reviewed

About six months back, “The Runaways,” the movie biopic about the all girl 70s rock ‘n roll band of the same name, was released, and I found myself with a mild interest in seeing it. This is partly because I’m a lukewarm fan of the band — their bluesy rock sludge was certainly a lot better than most of the dreck released by riot grrl bands of the early 90s. I’ve also, in recent years, done a lot of reading about the music scene in 1960s to 80s Los Angeles, and it’s from that stew that The Runaways emerged. Their manager, Kim Fowley, is quoted in pretty much every book one reads related to LA music from that era.

I finally watched the movie last night on Cable onDemand. The verdict: not bad, but not really great. Part of the problem is this is a story we’ve seen a million times — na├»ve rock band is plucked from obscurity and handed fame and wealth which they primarily snort up their nose or down in copious bottles of alcohol. There’s always something entertaining about such debauched tales, but they pack less and less impact with each viewing.

I also thought Lita Ford, guitar player for The Runaways, got shortchanged by the movie. Her character is only shown in passing, and only to belittle our sensitive protagonist: lead singer Cherie Currie. Now, I’ve no doubt that Ford probably was a real twat back then, but more so than Currie or rhythm guitarist Joan Jett? I doubt it. And Lita was certainly deserving of recognition for her musical talents — to this day, she’s one of the great female guitarists*. But Ford ultimately veered towards a career in heavy metal, a genre of music the pseudo-bohemian “artists” who populate much of the filmmaking industry despise. (Joan Jett is an executive producer of the film, and that might have affected the characterizations.)

* Of course, this status is partly because most female guitarists are so lame.

One interesting bit of trivia: Robert Romanus, the actor who played the wheeling and dealing “Damone” in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” has a small role as a guitar teacher in the film. I haven’t seen that guy in years, but he’s got a very particular presence, easy to recognize. I looked him up on IMDB, and discovered that he had a role in “Foxes” the only movie that Cherie Currie — in her bid to transform herself from a singer to an actress — ever appeared in. This coincidence clearly indicates some kind of divine power guiding the universe.

5 Responses to ““The Runaways” reviewed”

  1. Larwence

    Robert was in the Fame TV show.

  2. Wil

    Yeah, that kind of rings a bell… somewhere towards the final couple seasons. I used to love that show.

  3. John Saleeby

    Thirty years from now I’m going to Write the Kings Of Leon Bio Pic.

    What’s the deal with that Romanus guy? Did he fuck himself up on drugs? He had a promising Future in the early Eighties and disapeared. He should get the title role in “The John Saleeby Story”.

    I have to go to work . . .

  4. Wil

    It seems like he’s consistantly been working, but mostly z-grade or cable material.

  5. John Saleeby

    Let’s get him to be in the Acid Logic Movie!