Quick Movie Review: The Runaways (2010)

It’s nowhere near official, but according to my gut and this weird needle test the missus did at the Halloween party we attended, we’re having a girl. I’ll be honest, that’s a little terrifying, but that’s my problem, not that kid’s. Anyway, if nothing else, watching The Runaways made me want to make sure that my daughter can chase her dream and not have some asshole tell her that girls don’t play electric guitar.

So, The Runaways is kind of the story of the 70s all-girl rock band of the same name, but it’s really more about Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and their relationships with each other, booze and how that lead to the rise and fall of a rad band. The rest of the band doesn’t really have much of an impact on the movie, with the next most important person as far as the film’s concerned being manager/producer Kim Fowley who kind of brought the girls together and told them to think like dudes when playing (at least as far as the flick’s concerned, I’m sure it was a lot more complex in real life, but I’m not reviewing real life). You see Joan and Cherie living their respective crappy lives, eventually meeting up, taking the world by storm and then eventually breaking up thanks to drugs and, though it’s never said on screen, I would imagine the inability of such a young girl (Cherie was 15 when she started with the band) to process all the craziness that was going on in her life. Overall, it’s your basic biopic with rises and falls and all that. It’s a little boring in the middle, doesn’t always show important moments or even mention them (the girls head to Japan for a tour, but I don’t believe we’ve heard anything about them recording an album yet) and it is definitely weird watching Fanning strut around in her underwear. Aside from that, though, I think all the actors involved did a great job, though it’s a crime to hire Alia Shawkat if you’re basically going to have her play the same role Ethan Embry did in That Thing You Do. No more silent bass players!

I didn’t know a lot about The Runways or Joan Jett going into the movie, but I’d been excited about it for a while. I first heard the band on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack and read up on them from there. I was shocked to discover Joan Jett and Lita Ford had been in the same band together. Eventually, I picked up a used Runaways compilation CD at my beloved Boogie Records that is pretty great, but that’s really the extent of my knowledge of them. I’m gonna have to learn more about these and other lady rockers to make sure my potential daughter has some good role models to look up to (good in the sense of being badass chicks, not all the drugs and whatnot).

Quick Movie Review: Adventureland (2009)

Em and I watched Adventureland yesterday and I really dug it. It was an interesting follow up by Greg Mottola (Superbad) as it wasn’t really laugh out loud funny (though I kept laughing pretty loudly, warranting “shush”-es fromo Em). It’s a story about growing up from the perspective of a recent college grad who studied literature and wants to be a travel writer, but has to work at an amusement park to make money from grad school in 1987. Along the way, he meets plenty of interesting characters (including Bill from Freaks and Geeks, the lovely Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Kristen Stewart). But like I said, it’s not as crazy and wild as Superbad, it’s a more subdued movie with a lot more emotion and I can’t help but relate to James (our hero) who has no idea what to do with his life now that he’s done with school and has a degree in English. There’s an Avenue Q song about that right? Anyway, it definitely reminded me of working at Barry’s Bagels back home, meeting weird and interesting people who introduce you to all kinds of stuff.

Anyway, like I said I dug it. A few things of note, we had to turn our subtitles on just to make out what everybody was saying. There aren’t any accents, it’s just that James, played by Jesse Eisenberg is very soft spoken and delivers a lot of under-the-breath lines, which I found to be the funniest. If you turn the volume up too loud, then the damn music kicks in and blows your ear drums (wow, that made me sound OLD). Also, this might be the first movie I can remember where the young stars actually didn’t look old enough to be playing their characters’ ages. Specifically Eisenberg doesn’t look like a college grad, but a high school one. This threw me off for part of the movie because I kept thinking they might get in trouble for drinking in public. I had to keep reminding myself of that. Also, I haven’t seen any of Kristen Stewarts other movies (scratch that, she was the kid in Panic Room? huh) and I definitely didn’t have the strong feelings towrads her character than Ben had, but I can say that, for the most part, this is the least gross I’ve ever seen her. What’s with the greasy hair? I get that you’re pothead, but dress it up a little, you know? High points were when Bill from Freaks & Geeks shows James how all the rides work and when James punches a meathead. All in all, this is a great movie for English majors.