Film review: The Dirt
Based on the best-selling autobiography from Mötley Crüe, the film explores their rise from street misfits to music superstars.
Following the overwhelming success of Bohemian Rhapsody (read our review) comes The Dirt, the latest in a line of music biopics with Elton John’s Rocketman and Lynard Skynard’s Street Survivors due for release later this year.
Based on the autobiography of the same name, The Dirt tells the true story of Mötley Crüe, one of the 80’s most controversial glam-metal bands, known for their debauchery and off-stage antics.
Just as their music was polarising in its time, so too is the film which is sure to please diehard fans but may leave everyone else scratching their heads as to some of the decisions made by the filmmakers.
The film embraces style over substance and is more focused on showing the band having a good time and keeping the party alive than exploring many of the serious issues Mötley Crüe faced in a meaningful way.
The Dirt didn’t shy away from some of Mötley Crüe’s darker moments, including singer Vince Neil’s (Daniel Webber) manslaughter conviction and the death of his daughter, guitarist Mick Mars’ (Iwan Rheon) degenerative spinal disease, bass player Nikki Sixx’s (Douglas Booth) heroin addiction and drummer Tommy Lee’s (Machine Gun Kelly) divorces and domestic abuse convictions.
Frustratingly, filmmaker Jeff Tremaine, famous for directing the Jackass franchise, chose to sweep moments of intense personal tragedy and conflict under the rug in favour of getting back to the party. Scenes depicting anything serious were few and far between and over faster than Vince Neil’s real-life 30-day jail sentence for vehicular manslaughter.
Perhaps the most controversial element of the film is its portrayal of women. Mötley Crüe have a reputation for debauchery and treating women as sex objects. The opening scene of the movie shows a sex act that may make viewers turn off their televisions before the band is even formed.
The one female in the film who isn’t shown as a sexual object, Tommy Lee’s mother, is referred to as a word that my editor would fire me for typing during an argument with Tommy Lee’s fiancé. Tommy Lee defends his mother’s honour by punching his fiancé in the face for saying such a word.
While this may have been how the band treated women during their heyday, such graphic depictions of violence against women seem gratuitous given the Me Too movement and how far society has come in terms of gender equality.
Overall, the film will please diehard Mötley Crüe fans but will leave most audiences wanting more. I found The Dirt to be skewed towards a male audience and my advice is to only watch it if you’re fan of Jackass or Mötley Crüe. Otherwise, save your time and focus on the many other music biopics available.
Watch The Dirt on Netflix.
Final rating: 2.5/5
Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, Machine Gun Kelly, Daniel Webber, David Costabile, Pete Davidson.
If you like this, try:
Bohemian Rhapsody, Straight Outta Compton, Walk the Line, Sid and Nancy, Jersey Boys, Rock Star.