The first album I ever owned was Mötley Crüe’s Theater of Pain. From the very moment I heard the opening sequence to Wild Side, my love affair with Rock and Roll and to a larger extent The Bad Boys of the Sunset Strip, Mötley Crüe was born. They paved the way to me listening to other groups like Poison, Alice Cooper, Guns n Roses, Metallica and AC/DC. These were some of the bands who sang the soundtrack to my life. Some of these bands I may not listen to for weeks on end but mark my words, there’s nary a day that passes where I don’t listen to at least 1 song from Mötley Crüe.
To say that I was excited about their autobiography The Dirt becoming a film would be an understatement. It’s been a long and rocky road to get to this point but finally the project landed with Netflix I always wondered how they would tell such a storied career of sex drugs and rock n roll in just a single film. I especially wondered how would this movie ACTUALLY get made. The book is an unflinching, uncensored look behind the scenes at the “the world’s most notorious band” as they rose to the top, came crashing down and then went on to make more music, tour and get clean themselves up over the next 20 or so years. I always envisioned it as a limited series with maybe 10 episodes to get down to the nitty gritty but they’ve managed to do a decent job at hitting many of the most influential moments that shaped their careers.
The Dirt was directed by Jeff Tremaine who you may remember was a director on the Jackass films and series. The cast members are also relative unknowns with lead guitarist Mick Mars played by Iwan Rheon, who is best known for his role as bad guy Ramsay Bolton from Games of Thrones. Drummer Tommy Lee played by Colson Baker AKA rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Daniel Webber as singer Vince Neil played Lee Harvey Oswald in 11.22.63 and finally we have bassist Nikki Sixx played by English actor Dough Booth from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The narration is primarily told by Booth’s Nikki Sixx but each band member will have his opportunity to tell a piece of the story.
I have to admit when I first heard who was cast in the roles, I was skeptical that these guys could pull off the roles they were being tasked with but by and large, I’m happy to say that I was wrong to doubt these guys. The dialogue did feel a little janky at times but these guys all worked with what they were given and delivered extremely convincing performances in their respective roles. It was very obvious to me that they worked really hard at getting the mannerisms and moves right down to a science(watch the end credits you’ll see). One person who, for me, really stood out was Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly). I found him to be the very embodiment of Tommy Lee who has always been one of those guys who just always seems to have limitless energy. There’s actually a really great moment late in the film where Tommy Lee breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the camera for a moment to talk to the viewer about what his typical day was all about as a rock star. That’s not to take anything away from Daniel Webber. He sure hit those feels strings in me during the scenes with his daughter and even after that when the whole bad got together with him after his devastating loss. Another pretty fantastic casting was Tony Cavalero’s take on Ozzy Osbourne. That guy right there NEEDS to be in the Ozzy biopic because he was simply fantastic.
If you’re even remotely familiar with the story of Mötley Crüe and a fan of their music, you’re going to find a lot to like in here. They don’t really stray too much away from the source material and much of it stays very true to the story told in their biography with a little creative license tossed in here and there in the spirit of timing. From the the formation of the band and their early days antics all the way to hitting rock bottom the viewer is going to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. If Mötley Crüe was never your thing, or you don’t really know much of their background, I suspect you’re going to hate the band-mates as people and you’re going to hate the movie. This movie is absolutely in your face and is the epitome of what is deemed as acceptable behavior today. If you go into the film with an open mind and you remember that the 80s were a very different time. They were not only emulating what they grew up hearing about in their own musical heroes but anytime the band did something crazy or outrageous, they sold more records, made more money and could buy the better drugs. When they got off the plane in a new city, there was a new party for them to attend. They were, for all intents and purposes, being rewarded for being the bad boys from the Sunset Strip. They were very much a product of their time and environment.
The Dirt really is just a story you’ve heard a million times before. The underdogs make it big… they hit rock bottom and come back. As a kid from the 80s and a fan, I have to say that for me I loved The Dirt(I’ve watched it 5 times already). I’ve been there with the band in essence for over 30yrs during their careers. I followed their music and watched and listened to Much Music(Canada’s answer to MTV) hearing about their antics on the road to understanding their struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and what that did to them as people and to people around them. I think I must have learned from their mistakes. I never got into drugs, I can’t lie I do enjoy a good whiskey and beer but I never once drove under the influence and even as a young man I was a strong voice against anyone else doing it. During the movie I had the chance to relive some of those big moments with from a different perspective. I did have a stint in my teen years into my early 20s where I was a smoker and I do sorta think “Smokin in the Boys Room” may have subconsciously played a part in that poor life decision(I may or may not have snuck a few puffs in the boys room in high school). Feeling the jubilation and the highest of highs like experiencing Tommy’s typical day in his life to the dreadful feelings of sadness and loss for Vince after the car accident or the death of his angel Skylar succumbing to cancer (I’m a father to 2 beautiful young ladies so that hit me right in the gut)and even the news that Nikki had overdosed and died I remembered hearing about these events when I was a kid and now I was right there with them experiencing it. I think this is worthy watch for anyone 18 and older. Just try to keep your mind on the fact that 2019 is not 1981-1989 and try not to put today’s standards of behavior onto that era. You probably won’t enjoy it if you do.
The casting was great. I especially enjoyed MGKs Tommy Lee
Capturing the essence of the era and who/what Mötley Crüe was as a band.
They don’t change things up too much.
Very raw and in your face true story
The soundtrack is phenomenal. Each song is well placed for what’s happening at that time.
Some of the dialogue was a bit hard to take.
Felt a tad rushed in spots. I still think this would have been a fantastic limited mini series. 1:48 minutes didn’t feel like enough time
Would have liked to see Tommy’s marriage to Pamela Anderson played out