Metal Insider reviews The Mötley Crüe biopic ‘The Dirt’

Posted by on March 25, 2019

The Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt, finally premiered over the weekend (22nd) via Netflix. A few of us at Metal Insider decided to share a few thoughts on the film. Read our collaborative review below – *spoiler alerts*

Jeff Podoshen:  As a film, it works quite well and I found the movie to be well done. Yes, some of the acting here and there was a bit forced but with films like this, one will always make comparisons between the characters in the film and the people they portray in real life. In terms of story and plot, everything is definitely condensed and a large swatch of Motley’s career seems to have disappeared along with Pamela Anderson, but I can understand that Netflix probably wanted this film to come in under two hours.

My biggest issue with the film is that, since Mötley Crüe are executive producers, the exploits and personalities of members of the band are whitewashed a bit. Tommy Lee comes off as really likable in the film, and Tommy Lee isn’t nearly as likable in reality. Nikki Sixx as well. Also, who knows about what really happened in the drunk driving incident that killed Razzle, but with Vince Neil’s BAC at .17, I have a feeling he might have been driving a bit more erratically than actually portrayed in the film.

I did love the fact that film did some great recreations of Motley’s most famous (infamous) scenes, such as the “Looks that Kill” video, which I still vividly remember watching on MTV when it first came out.  The actors did a great job getting Tommy’s and Nikki’s stage moves down – and Mick’s portrayal (though much easier to accomplish) wasn’t bad either.

Thankfully the film doesn’t touch the abject horrors known as Vince Neil’s solo career, Sixx AM and Tommy Lee’s Methods of Mayhem. Inclusion of those would have ruined the film like Jar Jar Binks ruined the Star Wars prequels. Disappointed that NY’s own Samantha Maloney didn’t get any love as the band’s drummer from 2000-2004.

Bram Teitelman: First off, I’m happy that this is the closest thing the metal community has had to a watercooler moment in years. My Facebook feed yesterday was about 40% Mueller investigation and 60% people talking about how excited they were to watch The Dirt. There’s something to be said for that. I got to see the film about a month ago (I would’ve said something, but I had to sign an NDA!), and as a whole, I enjoyed it. Pretty much any biopic is what it is – a highly subjective film about an artist/band. And seeing that the Crue are co-producing it, of course it’s going to be somewhat whitewashed. That being said, the book the film was based on was not all that whitewashed. I would’ve thought that it was unfilmable, so the fact that this is even out is pretty impressive.

Someone asked me what I thought of the film after seeing it, and I said that it was pretty much like Bohemian Rhapsody, but if everyone in Queen were assholes. I stand by that snap assessment.Everyone in The Crue ranged from being dicks to reprehensible, with Mick Mars being the least so (he just comes off as more of a surly dude that manages his pain and younger bandmates by drinking a bunch). But it’s still a thrill to see a rock movie about a band coming together more or less out of necessity and succeeding beyond their dreams.

The acting is pretty good, particularly Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee and Ramsey Bolton as Mick Mars. It’s a little off-putting at first to see these kids playing The Crue, but you get used to it after a while. The film, of course, takes liberties with time and the truth, but you’ve come to expect that from any biopic. It’s also not particularly great when it reaches for drama, either. The Razzle death seems like a minor inconvenience that was in the movie out of necessity, and Sixx’s drug overdose (one of three he actually had) seems the same way. And when they get back together (spoiler alert!) at the end, it doesn’t seem like they’ve overcome any great odds. But then again, saying that the dramatic stakes are low for a film based on Mötley Crüe is pretty much stating the obvious.

This is a must-see for any Mötley Crüe fan, or really anyone that likes hair metal. If you’re not a fan, or are a little uneasy about seeing this film about the hedonistic sex drugs and rock and roll era of the ’80s in the #metoo era, you might want to skip it. A word about that as well. Those easily offended by the treatment of women in the particularly sexist era of ’80s hair metal have every right to be offended. And Mötley Crüe are far from woke, but by keeping the tone and some of the scenes from the film in, at least they’re not totally trying to revise their history. Much like the band’s music itself, if you can turn off your brain and watch The Dirt for the mindless fun that it is, you’ll have a great time.

Zenae Zukowski: Just like the movie, I’m going to cram as much as I can in this (hopefully) brief review. There are many different angles with The Dirt as I would probably give it a 6/10, and this is after highly enjoying the movie. For those who do not understand the 80’s hair metal era, this film is a great introduction on what it looked like. Honestly, I do think it could have been better as a series because there’s so much history with this band. You can make an entire film about the group with John Corabi but, that was more or less done before with Rock Star and not necessarily what The Dirt is all about.

It took a very long time to get this film made and after watching it, you can see why. However, it’s much better than what I expected. The one part that irritated me the most was during the beginning narration addressing how the 80s “all fucking sucked,” when it was just 1981. I thought that was an obvious overly exaggerated attention grabber and one of my biggest pet peeves in movies. I also feel the scene on Razzle’s death was rushed but, everything in this movie was scuttled. However, it was heartbreaking hearing Vince open up to his bandmates on how the universe works as I’m sure Vince to this day has never forgiven himself for what happened to Raz, and most likely blaming himself for the loss of Skylar. But that’s my own opinion/observation as the same thought went through my head seeing Vince drinking in the bar while seeing the band introduce Corabi on the TV screen.

While the film somehow sugarcoated the band, there were constant reminders on how pitiful and ridiculous they were from the very beginning introducing the group as “a gang of fucking idiots.” Aside from the burning the cockroach scene, a few of the most powerful moments are the scene with Ozzy Osbourne, the sequence with Vince losing his daughter while the band moved on with Corabi, and Sixx’s heroin addiction. Those are what grabbed me the most and it has everything to do with editor Melissa Kent.

It surprised me when the Jackass/Bad Grandpa director Jeff Tremaine was attached to this film. However, speaking of surprises, I noticed a certain rhythm in the movie that I’ve seen before in movies The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Crazy/Beautiful (2001). When you are more or less placing nearly thirty years into a movie that’s under two hours, you have to give a huge credit to the editor as Kent did a flawless job maintaining the film’s flow despite how much information had to be included. I can see how exhausting this entire process was to turn the book into a film as the script was probably re-written several times and if this was made in the 80s, freshly spliced film from the Steenbeck would have flooded the cutting room floor.

Between the VFX by Mr.X as well as With Mind & Machine, and Toby Oliver’s cinematography, I have to say I enjoyed the blurred sequences that made you feel drunk or high as there were a few moments that reminded me of Enter the Void (2009). The makeup and production worked well as they did a great job to highlight that era and mold the actors into Mötley Crüe. However, there were a few hiccups in terms of factual placements.

Despite his involvement with the XXX film series, you also have to give a huge credit to Rich Wilkes for writing the screenplay. Similar to Kent, perhaps he went back to his early roots such as 1994’s Airheads to bring this book to life on the small screen. One thing to note, I’m not sure how much Amanda Adelson was involved on the script as this would mark her first-ever credited full-length screenplay (according to IMDB).

Unlike many artists who hide the truth about themselves or make attempts to delete history, I give Mötley Crüe praise for being open on their experiences for better or worse. As the film did end with them saying “We’ve done things that we regret everyday.” To fully conclude my thought process,Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt is the Americanized Lords of Chaos. Meaning: it moved in a much lighter tone despite the dark subjects.


Mark Zapata: I found the Dirt enjoyable and a fun look back at the ascension  of Mötley Crüe. The casting was pretty tight and everybody, with the exception of Pete Davidson, did a pretty good job playing their roles. A young Kamryn Ragsdale  played Vince Neil‘s daughter Skylar and gave a heartbreaking performance and Rebekah Graf looked quite a bit like Heather Locklear.At times the movie was ridiculous and over the top, but it was a ridiculous time in the history of rock. The film had its share of laughs, showing the band’s antics on the road but it also showed some of the band’s major tragedy’s.

I feel like it could’ve been longer and could have gone a little more in depth as it often felt surface and a bit rushed. At just over an hour and a half it felt more like a lifetime movie than a feature film. But not taking itself too seriously made it an entertaining watch that brought back a lot of great memories. Regardless of what they have become, Mötley Crüe was a huge part of my metal maturation and looking back at their music and the craziness that took place reminded me of all that these young guys had available to them and all they had to deal with living that lifestyle. Overall I think The Dirt gave us a condensed peak at the history of Mötley Crüe that fans will enjoy. It’s not terrible.


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