Release Date: 2019
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, and Colson Baker
Mister Marquee Says: Girls, Girls, Girls…no, really, there’s a lot of girls
Aptly titled The Dirt, this Mötley Crüe biopic revels in the legendary debauchery of the 80’s glam band. Crüe are well known for cocaine, women, heroin, and anything you can drink, snort, shoot, or well, you know. At this point, Crüe are arguably more famous for their hard partying than their music, which is saying something. As a result, The Dirt has very little of the music side of the equation, just enough to keep the plot moving forward. Little snippets of songs are shown coming to life, but that’s not why we’re here, and Director Jeff Tremaine and Screenwriter Rich Wilkes know it.
We want the dirt. You want it, you’ve got it. There’s a near Wolf of Wall Street amount of hedonism. There are extended sequences of vandalism. Every drug you can imagine. An infamous exchange with Ozzie Osbourne that has become legend in the metal world for its sheer, unabashed grossness is reenacted and, if I write one more word on that scene, I’m out of a job.
The Dirt tries to take a more reflective view of the Crüe’s hard partying prime in the later scenes showing the consequences of those ways, but never really does. You can’t condemn and revel in this behavior at the same time, especially when your movie is called The Dirt, and it exists for the sole purpose of filming Mötley Crüe’s hotel wrecking drug orgies. The acting is at least solid, with Daniel Webber as Vince Neil and Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker as Tommy Lee standing out.
These rock movies all tend to be about the same though, especially the ones that gloss over the music. They’re as formulaic as romantic comedy. Band comes together. Band gets popular. Band gets a big ego. Band breaks up. Band gets back together. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes, you get a great character study with excellent musical performances like Walk the Line. Most of the time you get a fairly generic jukebox movie like Bohemian Rhapsody. Then you have movies like this. I don’t know that you can make a truly honest biopic about living rock stars. They can’t be made without the stamp of approval from the subjects. Can your really be totally honest about people like Mötley Crüe in those circumstances? I don’t think that you can.
The Dirt is entertaining, but that’s about it. As weird as it may sound for a movie with a legit shot at NC17 if it wasn’t on streaming, this movie is a little too tame. It pays lip service to the true dark side of Mötley Crüe’s behavior without exploring beyond the surface. It’s a cover band playing the hits, which in this case come off of a piece of mirror through the end of a rolled up dollar bill.