It is no secret to anyone who knows me personally that Mötley Crüe has been at the top of my favorite bands list since I was a kid.
It’s almost scary to think that their music raised me in a way. In my teen years Crüe gave me teased hair, a “fuck you” attitude, and the beginnings of tinnitus. Thanks to Nikki Sixx, in my early twenties I had a thing for boys who were absolutely no good for me, but that love of destined to fail relationships deepened the “fuck you” attitude and a love for Jack Daniels, so it wasn’t all bad.
If you are like me, you have probably been following the ups and downs and pushbacks as the band and filmmakers have been trying to make The Dirt. After what feels like a hundred years, it is finally here, and premiered on Netflix at midnight.
Now, leading up to the film’s premier I had concerns that I am sure a lot of Crüe fans held. First off, the run time is just 1 hour and 47 minutes. That seems so short! How could they possibly fit everything that makes
Mötley Crüe and The Dirt what they are in a short time frame?
Second, what about John Corabi? The album that he was a part of is iconic, and for me personally, is in the top 3 of my favorite Crüe albums.
Third, the casting seemed weird at first. I know a lot of folks cocked their head to the side when reading that Machine Gun Kelly would be playing drummer Tommy Lee, but I personally felt it was a decent choice. I didn’t know enough about Douglas Booth (Nikki Sixx) or Daniel Webber (Vince Neil), but I had seen Iwan Rheon in the British comedy TV show Vicious, and could not, no matter how hard I tried, picture him as Mick Mars. However, after the full trailer was released, I felt at ease. It was easy to relax even more once the music video for “The Dirt” was released. The mashup of the actors and the original band footage side by side fit well, and I could tell these four young men studied the Kings of the Sunset Strip enough to do a decent job.
Lastly, how Hollywood was this going to be? We all know how notorious
Mötley Crüe as a band was in their heyday. We’ve all heard the stories of the girls and the drugs and the debauchery, and the details of those things in the book are just as crazy and wild, but how would Hollywood handle it? Would it be blown out of proportion? Would things be glazed over or omitted completely? How would the live performances look? As someone who had seen Mötley Crüe 17 times in concert before they stuck the nail in the coffin, I was going to be super fucking critical of that.
Regardless of fears and all that, at the end of the day I had to remember one thing: it’s a fucking movie. It’s not a documentary. Things WILL be incorrect. (Maybe someone should remind Moving Boulder of that).
I feel like I need to be honest with how difficult this review is to write though.
I hadn’t turned on a Crüe song since the last show I attended on the final tour. When Vince, Nikki, Mick, and Tommy laid the band to rest, I threw roses on top of the grave, said goodbye to them, and closed a dark chapter in my life. Revisiting the music through the film, as stoked as I was for it, was not an easy venture.
All in all though, it’s been nice to revisit the music. As a “grown up” (I use that term loosely considering I still think Totino’s pizza rolls are an acceptable dinner), maybe I can make some happier memories with these songs.
Anyway, as I nestled into my red leather couch with my Chinese takeout and glass of Jack Daniels honey (after taking a shot of it), I clicked play on Netflix full of excitement and nerves. I could go into detail about how much this band has meant to me during my life, but I won’t bore you with that here. If you really doubt it though, check out my review of their show at the Hollywood Bowl on the final tour HERE .
Now, On With the Show…
As far as the film goes, I will fully admit, the first time I watched it, I was less than impressed. The timeline is off completely, and there are small details that most fans of Crüe for sure noticed were left out, and others put in that didn’t add up. There were pivotal events that were just completely omitted. Thanks, Hollywood. After a second watch though, I was able to enjoy it a bit more.
The film starts with the voice of Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx talking about the Mötley House, which in the book is told from Vince Neil’s point of view. It was kind of cool to get a peak into the debauchery that took place, but I could have done without the imagery of Tommy Lee and Bullwinkle (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just read page 1).
We jump from the Mötley House into a young Sixx’s life as quickly in the film as we did in the book. Overall, the insanity of it is uncomfortable to watch, as it should be, and the cringe that took me over in the opening scenes were not enough to prepare me for what was to come.
I found it odd that the film focused so heavily on Sixx’s relationship (or lack there-of) with his mother Deana and absent father, Frank Sr. Sixx was extremely close with his grandparents, and even mentions in the book that he was too fucked up to go to his grandmother’s funeral, hence the writing of Girls, Girls, Girls “Nona”. For me personally, if what the film was trying to accomplish as far as Nikki Sixx goes was to show how fucked up he was because of family and poor decisions, I would have included this. I do have to say though that “On With the Show” playing after Nikki’s name change was perfect, and made me smile. Partly, because it is my Number 1 favorite song by the band, and because that’s essentially what the song was about!
One of the pluses of the film that helped make it feel more authentic, aside from the portrayal of the band by the actors, was the fact that they spent time with the band to learn to play the songs. Daniel Webber did a great job during the audition scene where he sings “Live Wire”, the debut single from 1981’s (or 1982 depending on if you are going by the Leathür Records or the Elektra release) Too Fast For Love.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how they dislike Iwan Rheon’s portrayal of Mick Mars, but if you have read the book, he plays Mars as odd and out of this world (in the alien way) as he wrote his chapters. For me, he played Mars perfectly. All I needed from Mars were a couple of witty digs, which are peppered throughout the film, and I’d feel myself giggling, and memorizing those lines as my favorite.
Throughout Douglas Booth and Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly) brought the relationship between Terror Twins Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee to our televisions beautifully. Not only did they play up the relationship together on screen perfectly to a T, but separated they were equally convincing.
Baker breaking the fourth wall as Tommy Lee was one of my favorite things about the movie. Having auditioned for the part numerous times before being offered it, you can tell he literally became Tommy. He even got Tommy’s giggle down, which I am sure wasn’t easy. The entire scene of a day in the life of Tommy was brilliant.
Booth’s portrayal of Nikki Sixx was equal parts heartbreaking and perfect. Everyone is familiar with Nikki’s story, although it was tame compared to the book of course. There was a lot left to be desired, as The Dirt focused primarily on Nikki’s addiction to heroin. Granted, Nikki did have a massive issue with the drug, having died and been brought back, only to shoot up again, and his books The Heroin Diaries and This is Gonna Hurt have portrayed his story of being on top, hitting rock bottom, and climbing back up, but there were a lot of other issues he had that maybe should have been given some light to.
The most disappointing thing for me was the portrayal of John Corabi. Anthony Vincent, you may know him as the Ten Second Songs dude, has not only the look, but he has the pipes. For him to literally be shown for 20 seconds in the film doing nothing more than smirking is an insult to not only his talents, but to John Corabi’s. Personally, I would rank the 1994 self titled album in my top 5.
That being said, while I commend the band and those involved with the making of the film for squeezing a lot of the band’s history in to the film (spoiler: grab tissues during the scenes with Razzle and Skylar, as they are graphic and upsetting), I really wish that they would have done this as a mini series or a 2 part film to really go over the events that took place album to album. The Leathür Records release of Too Fast For Love is completely ignored, Theatre of Pain is barely mentioned, Girls, Girls, Girls is glossed over, and the 1994 self-titled is ignored, as is the post-reunion album Generation Swine (another album that people shit on, but I dig).
For those who aren’t familiar with Mötley Crüe, I don’t want to give every single thing away. Although, I gotta say if you aren’t familiar with Mötley Crüe you might be on the wrong website.
I’ve seen a lot of people hating on the film and talking about how it does nothing more than glorify drug abuse and objectifying women, but something people need to understand is that it doesn’t do either. It was something that was done regularly in the time period, and these guys took it to the limit. Does that make it right? Absolutely fucking not, but it does give us a glance into the stories and the lives of 4 dudes and the shit they went through. Guess what? Almost everyone survived.
In my opinion, the film is well done. There’s things I loved, and things I hated. That’s with any film. I’ve watched it about 4 times now to really grasp it as I was writing this, and it continues to grow on me.
Fan or not, just watch The Dirt with an open mind. You’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna lose respect for some members of the band and gain respect for others.
Most of all though, you’re going to fall in love with the music all over again, Hell, I did, and at the end of the day, that’s the legacy everyone needs to remember.
Long live Mötley Crüe.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Netflix – Mötley Crüe (Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars) – Original Photographers