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film review

(Left to Right) Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna in Bad Reputationcourtesy of Mongrel Media

  • Bad Reputation
  • Directed by Kevin Kerslake
  • Written by Joel Marcus
  • Starring Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, Iggy Pop, Billie Joe Armstrong
  • Classification: 14A/ 93 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

The ones who don’t give a damn about their “bad reputation” are often the ones who don’t end up having that problem.

Rock ’n’ roll says so, and so does an energetic, applauding and unadventurous documentary on the black-leather life and electric-guitar times of the pioneering punk-rocker Joan Jett. It’s called Bad Reputation, named after Jett’s early-eighties solo-breakthrough hit.

Joan Jett in Bad Reputation.courtesy of Mongrel Media

But here’s the thing: Jett’s reputation is not bad at all – in fact it’s hard-rock, three-chord solid. Who says so? Worshippers from Michael J. Fox to Miley Cyrus to Iggy Pop to the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

Covering her up-and-down career from the groundbreaking all-girl band the Runaways to her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, Bad Reputation roars through Jett’s 60 years like one of her songs, snarling and unsubtle.

We learn a little about Jett’s activism, and hardly anything about her personal life. “Music is my mate,” she says. Of course, she sang I Love Rock ’n’ Roll. Put another dime in the jukebox, baby, the feelings are mutual.