When the book The Dirt was published in 2001, it did a couple of things: Firstly it made Motley Crue relevant all over again. At the start of the millennium the Crüe were considered has-beens, a relic of a bygone age when hair metal ruled the world, and secondly, it changed the way rock star biographies were to be written. They had to include all the sex, drugs, addictions, depravity, you name it but let’s be honest here, nothing has surpassed The Dirt. It stands as the best rock and roll autobiography ever. And that is down to the fact that all the members of the band, plus others contributed to its content. It’s not down to one person’s viewpoint, everyone gets a say (even John Corabi). That being said, after the success of The Dirt it wasn’t long before talk of a film.
So, 18 years later the film of The Dirt is finally here on Netflix. Has the wait been worth it?
I loved The Dirt. I’ve watched it twice since it came out and I’m going to watch it a couple more times. It’s an early contender for film of 2019 for me.
And The Dirt could’ve been awful, like a lot of these rock pics can be. (Notable exceptions: This is Spinal Tap, 24 Hour Party People, umm that’s it really. I don’t have high hopes for Lords of Chaos). The movie’s success comes down to the streamlining of the story. The book is such a big tale with lots of little side stories throughout but a film has to have a narrative to drive it. The screenwriters and director Jeff Tremaine have crafted a very lean, no frills story and at 1 hour and 47 minutes, The Dirt does not outstay its welcome. They take you on a ride and like any great ride, full of ups and downs and twists and turns, you want to go on it again. And again. All the highs and most of the lows are in this film, from the first exhilarating moments when they all plug in and play ‘Live Wire’ for the first time together, to the car accident that killed Hanoi Rocks’ Razzle, Nikki’s heroin addiction to the death of Vince’s infant daughter, Skylar (if that kid’s performance doesn’t break your heart, then you are dead inside).
Yet, it’s the performances that truly stand out in this film. The casting is fantastic: Douglas Booth captures the cool and determination of Nikki Sixx, Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly) jumps with Tommy Lee’s energy, Ewon Rheon embodies Mick Mars’ detached and cranky demeanour and Australian Daniel Webber balances Vince Neil’s swagger, bravado and vulnerability with excellence. I loved these guys and I felt like I was actually watching the life of Motley Crüe, such is the film’s authenticity and attention to detail. Plus the scene with Ozzy is crude, gross and funny.
If you are a Crüe fan and you have Netflix, you’ve probably already watched The Dirt and are going to watch it again. If you don’t have Netflix, what’s wrong with you? Get it. It’s awesome. And then you can watch The Dirt.
I loved this film. Maybe I’m biased due to how much I love the Crüe but I don’t care. I can’t wait to watch it again.
Review by Dan Brixey (@DanielJBrixey)
Revisit our review of The Dirt‘s soundtrack (and their four new songs) right here