Based on the bestselling biography by Motley Crue, the film shows the band’s rise, fall, and comeback.
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Cast: Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, Machine Gun Kelly, Daniel Webber, Pete Davidson, David Costabile
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexuality, and drug use
Fun Fact: Christopher Walken was considered to portray Ozzy Osbourne in early stages of the film’s development.
Talk about a movie being in developmental hell. Talk of producing a film about the famous 80’s band had been in circulation since 2006. Maybe it was lack of studio interest, but since Netflix has been producing their own line of films and shows, The Dirt finally got life of its own with a 2019 release date.
This will be the second time I’ve had to complain about a film being too short. The other was Dream House and while that was short, I felt ripped off from seeing more. The same goes with this film as it is less than two hours long. Motley Crue has a rich history, and I’m really surprised they decided to skip out twenty years-worth of material. The film goes from the beginning of the band to about 1995. Now with the band back together in 2020 the film is now considered outdated, but that’s besides the point. Lots of things are glossed over quickly and it felt quick. For example, a few members have left over the years and replacements are brought in. The film shows about when Vince Neil left and was replaced with John Corabi. Corabi is hardly mentioned and that part of the band’s history isn’t touched much. This is a movie I’ve would’ve been perfectly fine with being clocked in at two and a half hours. There is so much history to Motley Crue that a longer runtime would’ve helped the film more.
Motley Crue is one of those bands that had preached and lived the sex, drugs, and rock n roll lifestyle. The film sure shows a lot about the sex and drugs, but unfortunately not much of the rock n roll part. While the performance scenes are well directed, and the cast that plays the members are talented from learning the songs, they don’t do much about the music. Some of the previous musical biopics I’ve reviewed digs deep into the music and the story about creating an album. The Dirt just mentions that they have albums out and we get a snippet of them recording Dr. Feelgood. Girls, Girls, Girls isn’t even mentioned at all. Instead the film focuses on the band member’s personal lives with Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx being the focal points due to the fact they have the most history to them in the media. Mick Mars’ condition is briefly mentioned, and Vince Neil does have his moments as well, but you can tell who put up more money with the producer’s credit. Granted a lot of things did happen to the members outside of their music so the major moments like Neil’s car crash and Sixx’s heroin habit need to be addressed. It’s one big party movie and those scenes can get redundant after a while. It would’ve flowed better if they had scenes of them making the albums to balance the film out and it’s interesting that director Jeff Tremaine decided to take it in that direction. Tremaine is known for his work on the Jackass film franchise and it shows here especially during the party montages.
One thing the film has going for it is the cast. Everyone in the movie brings in a solid performance. The members of the band really shine and all of them pull off the member they’re portraying. Douglas Booth was great as Nikki Sixx and I thought I was seeing a younger version of Sixx on screen. Machine Gun Kelly had the flair of Tommy Lee in him, and it was also like seeing a younger version of Lee on screen. Iwan Rheon has the least amount of screen time as Mick Mars, but when he was on screen, I enjoyed his performance. Daniel Webber as Vince Neil was like seeing a walking clone of Neil. They look exactly alike, and the casting was almost perfect in the look department. The actors had to learn some of the songs, and they did a great job on playing them. With the limited musical moments, they have it’s well directed. The music videos look almost exactly a like from the original video. Sadly, we don’t get to see more of the music, but when the actors must take the film seriously in its darker moments, they pull it off as well.
Overall, The Dirt just feels empty and it’s one of those movies that suffers from being too short. An extra thirty to forty minutes was really needed as the band has a long history to them. I get they can’t talk about everything, but this movie was in developmental hell for such a long time and anticipation was high when news about the film’s development was released. What we get is a giant party movie that shows the personal lives of the band members, and while those scenes and moments are fine, it would’ve benefited if more scenes featuring the music was peppered in to break up the monotony. The cast is what carries the film especially from the actors portraying the band members. While this is far from the worst musical biopic I’ve seen, the problem is that in the last few years many musical biopics have come out. It truly felt like Motley Crue was feeling left out and wanted this movie to come out as soon as possible. While it may have gotten new fans and got the band back together, time will only tell if this film will be mentioned more often.
Verdict: Middle Ground