It takes a real helping of celebrity chutzpah for Dakota Fanning to cover a tune like the Runaways' "California Paradise," a sarcastic ode to Hollywood street urchin life. For Fanning and film cohort Kristen Stewart, their night life equivalent probably involves dinner at the West Hollywood Urth Caffe followed by (non-alcoholic) cocktails at Drai's. But on the soundtrack to "The Runaways," their updated takes on the scruffy oeuvre of Curie, Jett and company feel tossed off in a way the original Runaways might appreciate.
Like her fellow platinum-tressed actress-turned-rocker Taylor Momsen, Fanning takes her vocal cues from Courtney Love's gnarled howl. But on record, Fanning sounds absolutely true to her motivation for making this soundtrack: She's a beautiful, well-paid actress playing the part of a beautiful, famous rock star playing the character of a broke L.A. punk vixen. But this town is built on pretty people dressing down, and the deep irony of her musical role as Curie is unexpectedly on target given myth-building source material such as "Dead End Justice" and "Cherry Bomb."
Stewart takes a passenger-seat role here, but her deeper register is a worthy compliment in this very silly formula. The rest of the soundtrack is essential but obvious '70s sleaze-rock fare, including the Stooges and Bowie, and MC5.
-- August Brown
' "The Runaways" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'