(Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, et al / PG-13 / 98 mins / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star in this music-fueled story of the ground-breaking, all girl, teenage rock band of the 1970s: The Runaways.
Verdict: Less a groundbreaker girl band biopic than say, a prequel to the as yet to be conceived if ever Joan Jett story, The Runaways gets the hark rock sound right, but goes soft when tapping into those teen temperaments or taking the musical temperature of the times. Not to mention Jett herself hanging around as executive producer, usually the kiss of death when it comes to objectively fleshing yourself out as protagonist in a movie. Which may explain the wrongheaded, diversionary focus on messed up sidekick Cheri Currie instead.
Dakota Fanning as fragile Currie and Kristen Stewart's pre-punk untamed tomboy Jett are bold, edgy impersonations as they disappear into their respective out of control real life personas, casting their own self-conscious notions of celebrity aside for the duration. But the problem is that the material is pretty thin and verging on afterschool special derivative, and hopelessly paling in comparison. Though it's refreshing to savor Stewart taking time out for a bit from that clinging female unrequited codependent leaning all over male magnet vampires and werewolves, which has been progressively wearing out its welcome.
More cartoonish and episodic than anything else, when not projecting an extended price-of-fame, pubescent pity party, The Runaways is likely to leave musically uninformed audiences without a clue. And for the fans, a documentary with authentic concert footage, would have been the more satisfying way to go.