March 26, 2019 The Dirt (Movie Review)
What do you get when you bring together a runaway bassist with an attitude, a lanky teenager who plays drums, a singer from a cover band, and a nasty guitarist who is probably 5, 6, maybe 7 years their elder? Simple, you get Mötley Crüe, arguably the most notorious Rock bands in the world.
Coming together in the early ’80s, when Pop music was dominating the mainstream, Mötley Crüe defied the trends, making their own heading toward becoming one of the best selling bands of all-time. A story of success, the most notorious aspect of it all is the chaos that ensued between the music; the sex, drugs, and craziness no average individual could ever fathom. Tales many have known well, either living through the era, or reading about it in the 2001 autobiography The Dirt, now it comes to life in a feature film by the same title, premiering exclusively on Netflix Friday, March 22nd.
A film directed by Jeff Tremaine (Jackass series), based off the book written by Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars, along with Neil Strauss, The Dirt chronologically follows the rise of the band. Giving each member their own spotlight, it centralizes around Sixx, highlighting his upbringing, or lack thereof. An aspect that the foundation of Mötley Crüe was built on, he soon enough connects with Tommy Lee, an eager kid who wants to rock, and Mick Mars, an experienced guitarist who wants success without the antics of Rock-n-Roll BS. The key to it all is Tommy introducing the guys to a friend from school, a lean David Lee Roth-like frontman with a powerful voice, Vince Neil.
Mostly everyone knows the story of where everything goes from here, so rather than rehash the events portrayed in the film, let us dive right into how effective it all is. First things first, the casting is pretty solid – with Douglas Booth (Great Expectations 2011, Romeo & Juliet 2013) as Nikki Sixx, Iwan Rheon (Misfits series, Game of Thrones series) as Mick Mars, Daniel Webber (The Punisher series, Thumper 2017) as Vince Neil, and Colson Baker (Nerve 2016, Bird Box 2018), AKA Machine Gun Kelly, excelling as Tommy Lee.
With each actor bringing their A game, the wild Rock-n-Roll lifestyle seems almost fantastical, but is very real indeed. There is plenty of sex, drugs, and juvenile behavior to go around; some instances that makes you laugh, other that make you shake your head in disapproval.
All this said, living in a time where it seems anything you may have said or done in the past will come back to haunt you, The Dirt should really be seen more as a cautionary tale opposed to a glorification of debauchery and anarchy. No, it is not a story of moral value, but it’s a true story of crazy things that happened due to fame, fortune, careless attitudes, and immaturity. This is not a knock on Mötley Crüe, because the members themselves would most likely agree they made a ton of poor decisions during the height of their success. This is all clearly evident by the Sixx narration in spots throughout the film where he is brutally honest about his addictions, his search for happiness, until he finally realizes what he really was looking for was a family, and his brothers in Mötley Crüe were it.
Which leads to the next point, releasing The Dirt in a hypersensitive time such as 2019 is extremely bold, because it could lead to the band’s past actions coming under scrutiny. Although, this is Mötley Crüe, and they have never shied away from controversy, so why should they now? In truth, the arrogant, brazen attitude of the band is part of what makes them who they are.
So is The Dirt a good film? That all depends on your outlook going into it. If you approach it with an open mind, realizing this is not promoting a lifestyle of excessive drugs and alcohol and extreme sexual mischief with little respect for yourself or others, you will enjoy it. On the other hand, if you come in insulted and appalled by what transpires on screen, you are probably going to hate this film.
Everyone is flawed, everyone makes mistakes, some bigger than others, but it is how we come out of it all that matters, and Mötley Crüe survived a lifestyle that nearly killed them. For their fans, The Dirt is a must watch for a well-executed film that is both educational and tragic at the same time. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.