By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Say what you will about the lads from Mötley Crüe–Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx–but after watching The Dirt on Netflix, I felt rebellious again! I wanted to thrash it up and relive those glory days. Yes, I listened to a lot of heavy metal back then. Plus, the ’80s to ’90s was a memorable time in music history. We went from punk rock to heavy metal to grunge. To say what’s next this style of music, who knows.
This heavy metal band’s sound was toned down when they entered their glam phase and I’m thankful I had Judas Priest’s hard-hitting edge to counterbalance. The Crüe gang had another thing coming with the rockstar lives they led; not every telling moment and scandal was revealed.
When considering biopic languished in development hell for over a decade, I suspect a lot had to be taken out to make it consumable for the masses. On a streaming platform like Netflix, perhaps some content was deemed risque–quite unusual when they do not always operate under the watchful eyes of Hollywood. The result felt very sophomoric at recounting the best and worst of times of the band. This film holds no candle to the book of the same name.
The movie was at least entertaining on a musical level. Seen are reasonable facsimiles of the real performers, and like the Queen biopic, teases to how some songs came about were offered. As for the boys, they knew nothing in how to stay alive in a scene that’s simply nothing but sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Daniel Webber played Neil, Douglas Booth intoned Sixx, Iwan Rhoen turned into Mars and Colson Baker became Lee.
I suspect the only reason why this film finally got made is that Netflix wanted to ride on the success of Bohemian Rhapsody. This other work has accolades despite marginalizing aspects of Freddie’s life. The Crüe movie feels just as sanitized. Amusingly, it takes on a tone of Saved by the Bell when Sixx breaks the fourth wall far too many times to tell viewers about what he felt was going on. These introspective moments did not say anything new that fans didn’t already know. Like the film about Freddie, it prefers to end on a high note than low.
Mötley Crüe had their share of individual problems. To compress nearly thirty years of their time into a 108-minute film is simply not possible. Some parts work but others do not. If this film is to bring the band back into the spotlight, then it did in troves. I have the greatest hits running through my head all over again!
3 Stars out of 5