The Runaways (aka: Neon Angels) is based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star, but also delivering a strong anti-drug warning to teens and others. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" serves as a metaphor for the narrative-- a slow countdown, a surreal but spectacular rise to fame, then alienation and burnout - a long long way from home.
The movie chronicles THE RUNAWAYS from 1975 - 1977; an all-girl rock band formed by teenage girls living near Hollywood, CA., and heavily manipulated by their manager Kim Fowley as 'jailbait rock' (all the girls were 16 or younger when the band recorded their first album). The band ultimately succeeds on their own merits as musicians, becoming the first all-girl rock-band to ever break into the world of arena-filling hard rock acts.
The movie focuses on the band's formation, and their meteoric rise to fame. Their first single, 'Cherry Bomb', gets some attention in the United States, where THE RUNAWAYS' U.S. tour hits major venues (Cobo Hall, with RUSH) and sleazy rock-clubs, often pairing them up with other rock groups such as The Ramones, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, and other popular 1970's rock acts. But 'Cherry Bomb' and several other songs from THE RUNAWAYS' first 2 albums become huge hits in Japan -- and their arrival for a set of shows there in 1977 is like Beatle-Mania. The band is overwhelmed by the Japanese reception. Almost prophetic, THE RUNAWAYS' last big hit song in Japan is 'Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin'.
Cherie is initially thrilled to be in the band, and lives the rock star life. She pushes the edge -- and their records sell well, generating lots of media controversy and hype. But during the tour of Japan, her personal life disnintegrates, and she burns out -- ultimately leaving The Runaways when they return to the U.S. The bass player (Jackie Fox) quits too, leaving only Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Sandy West. Joan Jett has decided that rock & roll is her life, and that The Runaways is her 'family'; she is upset by Cherie's decision to leave, but knows that decision is best -- for Cherie.