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"The Runaways"

You might have seen Joan Jett perform at last year’s San Diego County Fair, and she’ll return this year as the July 4 main act. “The Runaways” focuses on the period between when Joan Larkin took her stage name and when “I Love Rock and Roll” became a #1 hit. “The Runaways” also focuses on the price entertainers pay for success, specifically the toll it took on lead singer Cherie Currie.

While Jett would emerge as the most famous veteran of the Runaways all-girl band, the movie places equal emphasis on Jett and Currie, who ended up with an entertainment career like her mother and a substance abuse problem like her father.

Kristen Stewart plays Joan Jett while Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie and Michael Shannon plays producer Kim Fowley. The movie is partially based on Currie’s book “Neon Angel” and Jett was an executive producer, so their troubles and what differences they had aren’t likely the version of only one of the band members.

“The Runaways” is rated “R” for language, drug use, and sexual content involving teens - which is what the band members were at the time.

To Joan Jett, the band was Cherie Currie’s new family. An alcoholic father and a mother with an entertainment schedule meant that Cherie and her twin sister had to fend for themselves.

Jett had more of a desire for success than Currie. Fowley also had an interest in the band’s success which to him meant generating controversy and sexually-appealing photos. Currie had an appreciation for music and a desire for a professional life more appealing than working at a taco shop like her sister. Currie was thrust into a lifestyle she hadn’t planned, a situation she handled partially by various alcoholic beverages and pills.

The movie and actual history both note that Currie eventually reached the point where the band ceased to be her primary interest, after which Jett went on to musical success while Currie struggled with substance abuse. The movie illustrates the lifestyle - and the personal sacrifices – deemed necessary to advance entertainment careers.

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