With **The Runways,** Dakota Fanning gives a trans formative performance. Though Kristen Stewart (as Joan Jett) is top billed, **The Runways** is Dakota Fanning's film from beginning to end. Gone is the little girl from **I Am Sam** and **The Cat in the Hat,** this is the teen aged actress who is now in the same league with Jody Foster. As lead singer Cherie Currie, the ticket buyer witnesses Fanning's believable transition from poster pin-up queen to old lady who is prematurely aged from drug abuse.
As **The Joneses** is real fake, **The Runaways** is too real. Under the direction of Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), the Runaways was developed as the first female Rock 'n Roll band, circa 1975. Despite Cherie Currie's ascension to pop goddesses status, Fowley's Svengali tutelage is rude, crude and socially unacceptable. The girls are trained to fight for themselves and this prepares them to handle fame and fortune while performing on stage. However backstage, these teenagers are ill equipped to handle the seduction of sex and drugs.
**The Runaways** is a slice of punk rock history. While the focus is on Cherrie Currie, Joan Jett and Kim Fowley, band mates Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Sandy West (Stella Maeve) are given short shrift. Midway through the film when the hallucinogenic drugs kick-in, one could think they are being transformed to a midnight screening of a Ramones concert, this sequence is that disconcerting.
Despite the drugs, crude language and feminine hygiene issues that are presented in **the Runaways,** this is a film that should be seen as a family. ***The Runaways** is perfect fodder for family discussion about hard work, family values and the price of fame. It will be a tough conversation, but a good parent has to do it.