by Adam M. Wilcox
One thing for certain for anyone who has ever spent any certain length of time in bands, is that bands suck. The guitar player is an alcoholic and can’t stand up long enough to practice, but when he’s sober he can play a melody that would open the Heavens, or the gates of Hell…pick one. The singer is pretty cool, but you are pretty sure he has his eye on your woman. The bass player just wants everybody to get along and play a few decent gigs before his back gives out. Oh, and all of them have stories of when they were better… Yeah I was in a band like that, until I wasn’t. I know this routine. Somebody in the band is always an asshole, and the thing about assholes is everybody has one, or maybe ALL of them are assholes? Most of them come and go, or they just kind of gradually fall out of touch, and temporarily bleed into other bands. Very few go the distance, and live to tell stories about it. For the four assholes that formed Motley Crue, they didn’t just go the distance, they did laps around the solar system, lived on their own terms, and lived long enough to tell stories about it.
I grew up around the middle of Motley Crue’s career. Doctor Feelgood was the album I had. Everyone I knew had a copy. For those first few years of high school, Hair Metal WAS the pop scene unless you listened to R&B or hip hop. It was all about the excess. Stories of hotel parties, cocaine filled limo rides, groupies, fast cars, and women. Most of these guys slept on a pile of money, and snorted the rest. It would seem forever until three assholes from Seattle put an end to that almost overnight, and most people were about as eager to burn those Motley Crue records, as fast as the night that disco died.
For those years of the late 80s and early 90s, we had metal magazines, and swapped exaggerated stories of excess, and wild parties. This Netflix biopic nails THAT aspect of the hard rock scene that most of us pondered over. What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.
“What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.”
The Dirt is set up on a four-way narration style level of Nikki Six (Douglass Booth), Vince Neil (Daniel Webber), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon), and Tommy Lee (Colson Baker AKA Machine Gun Kelly) all telling different parts of the story from different perspectives. Director Jeff Tramaine does a nice job of showing these actors together with chemistry. I would say this movie kind of reminds me of The Wolf of Wall Street, where the director spares no details when showing exactly how far down the rabbit hole of Sodom and Gomorrah these four assholes are willing to go, and it works so well! It is hard to pinpoint the EXACT comic relief, but I would have to give it to Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, who is the oldest member of the band, and has simply no time for shenanigans, he just wants to be in a band that is going to be the most successful. Most of the time he just comes off as the grumpy bear of the band who scoffs occasionally when the Crue takes turns pissing in the swimming pool. Literally pissing….in the pool, and I refuse to spoil some of the cameos here, so I will just leave you with that mental image. Mick Mars is my spirit animal in this band. Old, and cynical as Fuck. Really though, all of these guys get a chance to shine, but I think the strongest performances were from Baker and Kelly.
It is really damn hard not to laugh at these guys running naked down the hallways of motels and setting each other’s rooms on fire just for the sake of being goofs. This is where the movie hits the strongest. The rest of the movie is your typical by the numbers rags to riches biopic, about how another band went from zeroes to heroes over a span of just a few albums.
The movie kind of takes a much darker tone by that third act, when all of the excess catches up with the Crue, and life becomes reality. Drugs, jail, and domestic disputes end those parties quick. The film gets somewhat confusing about midway through the third act, when things kind happen, and then don’t really happen. I can’t do THAT much fact checking….like I said, we had magazines and MTV back in the day, all we really knew, is what we heard in interviews, and read in the damn metal mags. Pretty sanitary stuff. I was surprised that the band was actually sober when they did Dr. Feelgood. That was the album I had. I had assumed that was when they were all at their worse. See how much I know? I mean at one point, these bands were kind of started to sound alike, but at least Motley Crue was one of the faster bands, and definitely too raw for the mainstream. I am sure the movie took some liberties, but after all this is a biopic about one of America’s wildest bands, and biopics are the flavor of the month at the moment. Although unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, you MIGHT not want to watch this one with your parents. Not even minutes into this movie, a girl is ejaculating on the carpet at a party. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it fits in with this band’s roller coaster lifestyle.
I cannot complain. I found it really damn hard not to enjoy this film for what it is. A biopic about a Crue that partied hard, rocked hard, lived excess, and overcame pretty much every shitty thing that came their way. What I respect about this movie, is that even after all these jerks did to each other, and everyone else, the movie still finds time to drop a message about being friends and staying together. It leaves you with just the right amounts of warm and fuzzy to make you stay for the damn credits where they show the faces of the actors next to the actual Crue. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the actual Crue. This movie made me go dust off my Motley Crue records…oh what you thought I burned them? 5 out of 5 cheese curds. Go check this one out on Netflix!