Based on the memoirs of lead singer Cherie Currie, "The Runaways" tracks the meteoric rise of the first ever all-female rock band to successfully break the barrier into a male-dominated industry back in the '70s. Often performing alongside acts like The Ramones and Cheap Trick, the group achieves the pinnacle of success both in the U.S and Japan. This high-voltage biopic chronicles the living-on-the-edge lifestyle of the five teenage band members, thrown together into the surreal world of rock stardom between 1975-1977.
The Runaways comprise Currie, a self proclaimed wild child, along with fellow members Jackie Fox (bass), Lita Ford (guitar), Sandy West (drums) and the legendary Joan Jett. They meet in Hollywood, where they put together their first album. Their first single "Cherry Bomb" strikes a chord with U.S. audiences and before long the group has a string of hits and two successful albums. They become overnight sensations in Japan, where they embark on a tour and amass a cult-like following.
The film does well in highlighting the juxtaposition between the youth and innocence (Currie and Jett were 15 and 16 respectively when they formed the group) with the rebellious nature and overt sexuality they exude on stage. Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) is the crazed producer who hardens them up for the road - going so far as throwing garbage at the girls while performing.
Both Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart turn in fine performances. They both tell "The Showbuzz" they wanted to stay as true as possible to the original characters and the music as they possibly could.
This may be Fanning's grittiest performance to date and she manages to showcase well the emotions that go along with having to grow up fast in a world full of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. Stewart is in her element, playing a brooding Joan Jett pre-Blackheart days, disillusioned somewhat by the group's eventual implosion, but intent to take her career as far as she can, providing a fitting conclusion to the film. Floria Sigismondi directs this "rise to the top, before you fall" film.
Also out this weekend is "Date Night" starring two of the hottest stars currently on television. Tina Fey, of "30 Rock" fame, and Steve Carrell, of "The Office," play a couple bored with their marriage. They decide to inject some fizzle into their lives - planning a night out together. Things take a bizarre turn and more than just sparks fly in this mistaken identity adventure'
And if you happen to be in the mood for something a little more serious, you may want to see "Letters to God." Based on a true story, Tyler Doherty is a courageous boy stricken with cancer. Armed with little more than innocence and faith, he bravely battles everyday the deadly disease he's afflicted with. In the process, he changes the lives of the people around him when he begins writing to God. The letters he pens end up in the hands of a life-weary postman, who is at a turning point in his life.
The story that unfolds is sure to leave you both uplifted and feeling inspired. Tanner Maguire plays the extraordinary 8-year-old Doherty and Jeffrey S. Johnson is postman Brady McDaniels. Ralph Waite also stars in this heartwarming film.
By Karina Mitchell