MOVIE REVIEW: The Dirt (2019)

When I first moved to the UK myself, my brother and a few friends went through a phase of reading rock star autobiographies. Anthony Kiedis and Slash were popular but the number one book we all loved was The Dirt, which tells the story of Mötley Crüe from the perspective of all four band members. It was raw, brutal, shocking and hilarious. I am not even a
Mötley Crüe fan and I was obsessed. When I found out Netflix was going to make a film about the book I was immediately keen to watch it.

The end result is… interesting. The pacing is all over the shop. Loads of time is invested into Nikki Sixx’s (Douglas Booth) childhood, which makes sense as it explains a lot of his drive and his sink into addiction. After that everything is at breakneck pace. The band goes from playing in an empty basement to filling stadiums in minutes. Everything after Vince Neil rejoining to 2015 is about 4 minutes long. None of the story lines ever get to breathe so a lot of the impact is lost. There is so much made of the band being like a brotherhood but nothing invested into setting up their closeness. It’s mostly just mayhem and tits. I mean don’t get me wrong mayhem and tits is fun but the book wasn’t just fun. It was hard-hitting and really emotionally intense. It strikes me that a mini-series would have been more effective than trying to ram 30 years into two hours.

Mötley Crüe had so many interesting run-ins with other famous bands and band members and the only ones who show up are Ozzy Osbourne (Tony Cavalero) for about a minute, Slash – passed out on a couch and the ill-fated Razzle (Max Milner) from Hanoi Rocks. There are so many missed opportunities that seem to be related to time constraints.

The 80’s, when men were men

When it comes to the performances, Booth is not charismatic enough to pull off Nikki Sixx. He tries very hard to project Nikki’s passion and spiral into addiction but it doesn’t really work. Being pretty and putting on the face paint does not a rock star make. Iwan Rheon is usually great but I didn’t buy his Mick Mars. He looked extremely uncomfortable at all times. I know Mars suffered from health problems and was in pain but that is not what I mean.

It is rescued somewhat by its other stars. Daniel Webber is great as Vince Neil. He completely throws himself into Neil’s raunchy onstage persona but also brings gravitas to his brush with death and the loss of his daughter. Surprisingly Colson Baker AKA Machine Gun Kelly really embodies Tommy Lee’s high energy, live in the moment sunshine simpleton persona and he is a joy to watch. I was also impressed with Rebekah Graf whose portrayal of Heather Locklear is so accurate it feels like you’ve gone back in time to Melrose Place circa 1992.

It’s not a great interpretation of the book. It’s not even a good one. I mean it was a laugh for two hours but you’d be much better off reading the book. The book has cult status with reason. The film is unlikely to be remembered a month from now.

2/5

9 Comments

  1. I saw this featured on Netflix, and I was wondering if it was worth the watch. So, is it a one-time movie, or is it a mini-series? It’s disappointing when a movie doesn’t live up to the book. From what you described, I think I’d much rather read the book. Didn’t Vince Neil get in a car accident where he killed someone? I’ll have to check out this story.

    1. It’s a standalone film but I think a series would have been a lot better. Vince Neil did indeed have an accident while driving drunk and killed the drummer from Hanoi Rocks. It features in both the book and film. The book is just so much better though.

  2. Not something I would watch, or read. I cannot imagine watching Motley Crue for longer than it took me to switch off the TV. 🙂
    But each to their own, I respect that.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Hahahaha. I am not a fan of their music at all but the story of their life as a band is just a fascinating look at excess, the music industry and an era that is very much over.

  3. Probably so much of it was removed or diluted because they can’t show half of what the Crue got up to on TV! 😛 Besides I think we all know to expect some kind of “dramatic licence” taken in bios (see, Rhapsody, Bohemian)…

    1. It was on Netflix and I have seen some pretty crazy shit on there so it’s not like they had to get past some kind of censor. Also since they wrote the book themselves and told all their own stories, I’d be surprised if there were parts they wanted to keep hidden.

      1. Or maybe 2 hours of debauchery is too much for people to handle…. 😛

  4. I was actually just saying to my other half this morning that this movie had so much potential and just fell flat and is so forgettable. Oh well, there we have it.

    1. Yes… it could have been something very special and instead it was just really tame.

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