“The Dirt” stars Douglas Booth, Colson Baker, Daniel Webber, and Iwan Rheon. Released on Netflix on March 22, 2019, the film chronicles the notorious rock and roll group, Mötley Crüe.
The film is directed by Jeff Tremaine, the co-creator of “Jackass”. It is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Neil Strauss with Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx. Recently, we’ve seen plenty of biographies that focus on a musical group and the ups and downs of that group, such as N.W.A. from “Straight Outta Compton” and Queen from “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Now, it’s time to shift our focus to another musical group. One that put themselves on the map due to their reckless behavior. Yep, I’m talking about Mötley Crüe. Now, I’m very familiar with the likes of N.W.A. and Queen because of their songs, but Mötley Crüe is one band that I haven’t got into that much. I think I heard just one of their songs from somewhere, and that’s about it. So, it would be interesting to see if this latest biographical film has enough material and the right substance to get me interested in the band.
Similar to the other recent music biopics, “The Dirt” showcases the accomplishments that the band, Mötley Crüe, achieved as well as the controversial events that involved the members of the band, such as Vince Neil’s vehicular manslaughter and Nikki Sixx’s drug overdose. In other words, it’s basically like “Bohemian Rhapsody” in terms of the narrative. The band was formed, they put out some successful songs, they became famous, a bunch of tragic stuff happens that lead to the band’s downfall, they reunite later on, everything’s good, credits roll. The first thing I want to point out is that the film really wants you to know that it’s strictly for mature audiences. Language, drug use, nudity, sex, rock and roll, and plenty of mean-spirited moments. You name it, this film has it. If you’re not a fan at this type of stuff, I would recommend you watch “Christopher Robin” on Netflix instead. Aside from that, how was the execution? Well, I can clearly tell that the film was made for people who grew up with Mötley Crüe, and I humbly respect the filmmakers for what they’re trying to do, but it rarely did anything else to make non-fans want to bang their heads to the music as well. It felt like the story is recreating the band’s notorious acts for the sake of fan service rather than provide emotional depth in its compelling story and the characters. I did appreciate Jeff Tremaine’s attempt at representing the question, “How much is too much?”, and the pros and cons of being in the music business, but it did look like he was struggling to make those two things work, resulting in something that made me feel less connected to the characters onscreen. The film’s only saving grace was the main cast who portray the members of Mötley Crüe. “The Dirt” continues the “music biopic” tradition of having the actors embody the personalities of famous musicians with flawless results. Douglas Booth, Colson Baker, Iwan Rheon, and Daniel Webber were all great in their roles together. Even if you don’t think the overall film was any good, you have to admit that these actors put on one heck of a show.
Overall, “The Dirt” has plenty of entertaining moments that will please tons of Mötley Crüe fans, but as a regular music biopic, it’s an emotionless and mean-spirited experience that rarely makes good use of its thoughtful themes. It had the tools it needed to make a suitably decent biopic for everyone. It just didn’t know how to handle them properly so that it connects well to both fans and moviegoers alike. On the bright side, I did learn a few things about Mötley Crüe, and one of those things is this: If I wound up behaving like them, I would get nothing but trouble with a capital T. As I mentioned before, the film was made for people who like Mötley Crüe, just like how “Bohemian Rhapsody” was made for those who like Queen. If you want to watch this film because you grew up with Mötley Crüe, you go right ahead and watch it. Don’t even worry about what I think of it because my thoughts are obviously based on my lack of experience with the band. With that said, keep calm and rock on.