STARRING: Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, Colson Baker, Daniel Webber, Pete Davidson, David Costabile, Leven Rambin, Kathryn Morris, Rebekah Graf, Tony Cavalero, Max Milner, Jordan Lane Price, Christian Gehring, Anthony Vincent Valbiro, Kamryn Ragsdale, Courtney Dietz, Joe Chrest, Elena Evangelo and Michael Hodson
The story of how Mötley Crüe came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.
The Dirt is directed by Jeff Tremaine (directed the first two Jackass films) and based on the autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, the film focuses on the rock band Mötley Crüe, focusing on the rise, the sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, as well as looking at the individuals themselves and the vices, personal demons they face.
While there were a number of people that weren’t impressed with how Bohemian Rhapsody played it safe with its cinematic adaptation of the band Queen and particularly Freddie Mercury, The Dirt’s opening scene quickly puts to rest any worries that people may have with the film being a tame version of Mötley Crüe. The film gives us a brief introduction/backstory to each band member before bringing them together to perform at a few nightclubs before getting signed up and soon enough tour big arenas and stadiums. The film makes use of narration, with each member giving their own perspectives on certain events and the life of ‘the band on the road’ routine. Visually some of the sequences in the film worked really well, particularly when Tommy Lee narrates the day in the life whilst on tour and a car crash leading to the tragic loss of Razzle. The performances here are arguably the films strongest aspect, with Machine Gun Kelly surprising me with his performance as Tommy Lee. He’s enthusiastic, childish yet likeable, whilst Douglas Booth is fine as bassist Nikki Sixx, whose struggling with drug addiction (mainly heroin). Iwan Rheon is the deadpan member of the group and brings a sense of balance with his performance as Mick Mars whilst the rest get to go crazy and Daniel Webber really good as Vince Neil whenever he has to handle the dramatic scenes in the film.
In terms of negatives, mines are aimed mainly in the script and structure of the film, particularly as there is a moment when Nick Mars breaks the fourth wall to explain why a certain scene didn’t happen, even right down to who got cut out of the film, that is jarring and took me out of the film for a few minutes. Elsewhere the film takes its time to get the band together then suddenly we’re montaged and wikipedia’ed through the bands rise just to state ‘Yeah, it happened’ but doesn’t let the audience take time to digest these moments so we can skip through to the fall of Mötley Crüe originally and how/why they were rifting with one another. While shot fine in terms of how the gigs/recording studio scenes are framed, unfortunately Daniel Webber’s lip syncing is pretty noticeable. There’s certain emotional and dramatic scenes that just didn’t quite work for me, as much as the film tries to humanise the band. As for the exploits, now I’ve never read the book nor can I say that I’m a fan of Mötley Crüe, considering the films opening and a cameo (of sorts) of Ozzy Osburne, it feels like the film has tonned it down somewhat and come across as a familiar music biopic film adaptation.
With a solid start and some good performances from Booth, Rheon, Baker and Webber, it’s a shame that the film itself feels like a tonned down version of what I was expecting from the halfway point onwards and its attempts to humanise the band doesn’t quite work for me. If you’re a fan of Mötley Crüe I’m sure there’ll be more enjoyment for you here but coming at it as music biopic, I thought it had its moments but overall not for me. 4/10