The Runaways

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Runaways Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Sex, drugs, and glam rock in '70s teen band biopic.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The message that making music and being cool goes hand-in-hand with broken lives, risky sex, and substance use is definitely on display here. But that's mixed with the message the band members embody onstage -- they’re intense and passionate and unwilling to go gently into a chauvinistic industry’s good night.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents are MIA, teens are lost, and the only grown-up who seems to care is a relentless bully. But he does care, at least about their music, and about their dreams.


A band manager yells expletive-ridden insults at his protégés to toughen them up. He throws garbage at them, and gets others to do so as well. A girl throws a heavy object at a glass window, breaking it. Characters have loud arguments with each other. Older men menace a bunch of young girls and threaten them with bodily harm.


Girls make out, with both boys and girls. A couple seem to be having sex in a bathroom, with the guy positioned between the girl’s legs, though very little is seen. A teenager struts around in lingerie and high heels on-stage, as part of her act. A man is shown pantsless, having sex with a teen girl, though no body parts are visible. A character poses for suggestive photos. Frank talk about masturbation.


Plenty of swearing, from “ass” to “s--t” to “f--k.”


Signage for fast food restaurants. Name-dropping of various bands.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plenty of drinking by teens and adults, and some pill-popping and cocaine snorting by teens too.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this music biopic is way too mature for Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning's young teen Twilight fans. It's full of drinking, drugging, and high-heeled swaggering, as well as plenty of sexy stuff, including kissing between teen girls and sex scenes between teen girls and young men. Substances are mostly limited to alcohol, but teens also snort cocaine. Parents should be prepared for teens to fantasize about running off and starting a band after seeing this movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byI need a name January 24, 2021
Adult Written byEmmy. C July 28, 2020


Amazing movie but there is many sexual things in it. Even two girls have sex. There is a 3 minute scene where 2 girls who are 15 are snorting and eating cocaine... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 31, 2019

An Underrated Band And An Underrated Movie

If you love rock music, the 70´s and girls who dare to break boundaries, The Runaways is a movie for you. It is about one of the first all female rock bands.The... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymisumi April 4, 2015

this is a good movie if you're a music fan.

This biopic is mature and has girl on girl kissing, a sex scene and drugs and alcohol. If you love sex, drugs and rock and roll then you'll like this. Not... Continue reading

What's the story?

As a teenager, rock star Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) longed for more than the ennui of her time (the 1970s) and place (Southern California). After piquing the interest of musician/doorman/producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), she starts a band under his hard-driving direction. With a drummer and bass guitarist to back her up, Shannon determines they need one more member, the Blondie/Brigitte Bardot concoction he finds in Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), a 15-year-old yearning to escape her life. Her mother (Tatum O'Neal) has run away to Indonesia with her new husband, leaving Currie and her sister with their alcoholic father. The group Jett and Currie formed, The Runaways, was like a shooting star, burning brightly and dying out quickly. But not before it left an indelible mark on the American music scene.

Is it any good?

THE RUNAWAYS makes you long for the days when rock-and-roll was, to paraphrase Fowley, “a death sport” and making music wasn’t all posture and preening (no autotune here). The look-and-feel is right, the hunger seemingly real and raw. And the music brings on punk-rock nostalgia in the first few guitar licks. Kudos to director Floria Sigismondi, and the entire cast she assembled. Shannon, Stewart and Fanning all bring it, and in style. The film makes good use of Stewart’s nervous energy; finally, she doesn’t come off angsty, only raring to go.

But yes, there is a stipulation: The whole enterprise doesn’t fully gel. Like a band missing that secret ingredient that lifts them from relative anonymity. The styling’s right, but the substance is not. Though Currie’s family life as detailed here ostensibly informs her music and actions, the film goes for the obvious, simplistic connections. Abandoned child seeks sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll -- blah, blah, blah. But how did she really feel about the music? The same could be said for Jett here; she remains an enigma. Still, these mysteries don’t fully prevent having a fairly good time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the teens using drugs and alcohol in the movie. Why do you think there's such a link between drugs and rock-n-roll? Did the up-and-coming musicians have to drink and use drugs to be part of that community, or could they have made different choices?

  • What do you think about the way Cherie's sexuality was portrayed in the movie? Was it realistic? How can teens explore their sexuality while staying safe?

  • What was it about The Runaways' music that connected with audiences? What made it seem fresh and new?

  • What did Joan and Cherie get out of the band? Out of music? What did Fowley get out of pushing the band members in such an insistent, abusive manner?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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