No Bad Reputation Here

Joan Jett documentary, like the artist, has more hits than misses.

“Joan didn’t want to be Joni.”

We are in a golden age of documentary. The Netflix boom has given everything an opportunity to be examined. With so much content it’s not a matter of good vs. bad as much as it is good vs. great. The movie theater (indie movie theater at least) will always have room for a documentary. With Won’t You Be My Neighbor reducing everyone to an emotional, and Love, Gilda making us yearn for nostalgia, Bad Reputation is a rollicking and spirited look at a rock legend.

Directed by Kevin Kerslake, Bad Reputation delves in the history and mindset of Jett through the ubiquitous Behind The Music bio. The format may be paint-by-numbers, but the archived clips are gold. Also, Jett is an ageless wonder in look and sound. Her producer, Kenny Laguna, tells the linear story of how the rocker got from A to B. The glowing praises and sound bites from other legendary rockers (Iggy Pop, Billie Joe Armstrong) and punk, riot girl luminaries define her impact. It’s important to stress her as a trailblazer, as a woman- and for fusing punk and hard rock.

A standout was all the portions with The Runaways lead singer and bandmate Cherie Currie. The Runaways, being the first all-female rock group to fuse punk, rock, and metal, warrants a documentary all its own. The two since have made amends on their friendship but details about their time with The Runaways remain completely different. Especially when it comes to former band manager Kim Fowley and the breaking up of the band. It’s understandable as the documentary is about Jett’s whole career. But still, Lita Ford could’ve gotten some more face time

That decision makes Bad Reputation less of a journalistic/workman-like production and more of an indulgent sugar rush. But that’s not a bad thing. For an artist as under rated and under appreciated as Jett still is, this is the panacea for it.


JP Spence

JP Spence is a writer, screenwriter, and improviser living in Los Angeles. He previously served as the media critic for the Topanga Messenger and as Editor-In-Chief for the LA Valley Star. You can find Josh @JP_Spence on twitter or at any press screening.

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