“The full-length trailer for ‘The Runaways’ finally came out last night,” writes Lindsay Robertson at Vulture, “after an abysmal teaser kicked around Twilight fan sites for months.” Though the new one’s a step up, Robertson’s none too impressed with the production values or the derivative band origin story (Andrew O’Hehir agreed that it’s “a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll biopic” when he reviewed it for Salon after Sundance, though he doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing) or with… pretty much anything else about it. And judging from the trailer (below), I can’t say she’s completely off the mark.
But I can say that her final pronouncement — “People will see this either because they’re Twi-hards or they want to see Dakota and Kristen kiss” — neglects those of us who will be seeing it for a far better reason: Joan freakin’ Jett, people. The woman who, at 15, co-founded a band that, as O’Hehir put it, “changed rock history, 20 years or so before the riot-grrrl meme.” One of only two women to make Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list. A woman who, as an executive producer of the new film, gave Kristen Stewart this advice on playing her: “Put your p—- to the wood! F— your guitar!” Love.
Speaking of Stewart, I’d also like to put in a word for those of us who don’t love the ‘Twilight’ franchise but strongly suspect the actress possesses substantial reserves of cool that have thus far been obscured by her association with abstinence porn. In the same interview in which she shared Jett’s words of wisdom, Stewart noted that breaking away from Bella Swan — and that character’s obsessive fans — is half the point. “I don’t think people can expect me, for the rest of my entire career, to please an audience that once liked ‘Twilight,’ you know what I mean. I just think that’s crazy.” It’s comments like that that make me agree with culture editor Sarah Hepola, who says Stewart “has rammed a stake into a boring rut of bubbly, gleamy-toothed teen queens like the (I’m sure she’s lovely) Vanessa Hudgens and the (does a lot for charity) Hayden Panettierre. Kristen Stewart is smart, talented, dark, slightly pained by gobs of attention and hugely successful.” And, bringing things full circle, “She’s playing Joan Jett, OK? I don’t give a damn about her bad reputation.” Seriously, you guys, Joan Jett. Do you need a better reason?
If you do, here’s one more: When the entire list of Oscar-nominated women can barely be drawn out over the length of a twenty-odd-year-old Carly Simon song (the most recent Oscar-winning song solely credited to a woman, I might add), it’s worth getting excited about “The Runaways” just because it’s written and directed by a woman and has a mostly female cast. Even if it is, as Robertson says, “a retread of pretty much every based-on-a-true-story band or drug movie’s ‘Behind the Music’ story arc,” I am so there on opening night.