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Notes From the Back Row

The Runaways is a rockin' good time



The Runaways finally makes it up to Whistler this week and it is awesome. People who actually remember the all-girl rock band from the '70s might find the flick a bit montage-y and loose with its facts (it focuses almost entirely on the Joan Jett/ Cherie Currie relationship and ignores the other members of the band, including the kick-ass Lita Ford) but all in all The Runaways is a rockin' good time.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning kill it in the lead roles while newcomer director Floria Sigismondi delivers a highly watchable account of journey of some really young girls (Currie was 15 when the band formed) in the messy 1970s who embrace the hypersexual side of teenage pop culture and roll with it until they self destruct.

Fathers lock up your daughters because Rock and Roll will get 'em every time and supporting actor Michael Shannon knocks one out of the park as the girls' slick manager Kim Fowley. Shannon should get an Oscar nod for his performance here. Next up he stars in the Megan Fox, Horror-Western Jonah Hex, set to hit theatres in June.

The nifty lesbo romantic undercurrent to The Runaways also includes a tiny bit of on-screen girl-on-girl action followed by an artsy montage. It's nowhere near as awesome as Angelina in Gia but Kristen Stewart, thanks to Twilight, is one of the biggest stars in the world so any scene where her and Fanning swap some spit is at least a bit culturally relevant.

Kristen Stewart first appeared in 2002's Panic Room, the least-known piece of work by David Fincher (Fight Club), but she caught my eye as a gypsy musician love interest in Sean Penn's epic Into the Wild. She also ruled in last year's theme park love-comedy Adventureland. Real film freaks might have caught her in the recent Indie drama The Yellow Handkerchief but the rest of us "K-Stew" fans will just have to wait until autumn when the next Twilight drops. Those movies have shitty acting and dialogue but I enjoy them anyhow. Vampires are so hot right now.

Also hot, in a much more intelligent way, is Tina Fey. She's hugely popular for her TV show 30 Rock (and her Sarah Palin impersonation) but it was Fey's script for Mean Girls that brought her big-screen cred. This week she's teamed with equally funny Steve Carell in Date Night, a mistaken-identity romantic comedy about a married couple looking to have a nice dinner together but who end up in an Adventures in Babysitting-style night of mayhem being pursued by gangsters, crooked cops and all sorts of bad times.

Steve Carell (also a huge TV star with The Office, but also a big time movie star thanks to The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Tina Fey are outstanding comedians but unfortunately Date Night doesn't succeed as much as you'd expect. Blame director Shawn Levy, whose best work up to now was either Night at the Museum 2 or Cheaper by the Dozen 2 - not much of a pedigree. Levy goes too big and ridiculous with his plot and the story overshadows the talent, despite a supporting cast of Mark Wahlberg, James Franco and the getting-hotter-every-time-you-see-her Mila Kunis.

Date Night isn't total crap, you might as well drop by the good old Village 8 and see it, but watch the outtakes during the credits to get a hint of what could have been a much funnier movie if the stars were given more room to "use their acting."

The DVD of the week is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, the Werner Herzog flick about a strung out cop played by Nic Cage. Hot-ass Eva Mendes also stars.

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