Mötley Crüe has the reputation of being one of the most scandalous, hard-hitting bands of ’80s hair metal, but that doesn’t mean director Jeff Tremaine had to go and make a film about the band. Netflix’s The Dirt attempts to showcase Mötley Crüe’s legacy but instead romanticizes the negative side of the band and rock music as a whole.
Mötley Crüe, made up of Vince Neil (Daniel Webber), Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly), grew to fame with hits such as “Kickstart My Heart” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” The band is known for its adornment of leather pants and teased hair — but most importantly its debaucherous attitude.
The Dirt pulls from the 2001 memoir of the same name. The film attempts a pseudo-documentary style where the characters consistently break the fourth wall. Though the technique makes sense because the plot is pulled from a memoir, most times it seems unnecessary and disrupts the storyline. Following the band from the time it got together through each members trials and tribulations, the viewers get a bit of insight into the band, but ultimately the film is more raunchy than anything else.
The film glorifies the problems with the rock music scene the ’80s by showing members of the band on sexual escapades or snorting another line of coke. Women are objectified and abused on the regular, drugs are taken like daily vitamins and hotel rooms were destroyed and bashed to pieces.
Any and all of the narrative depth in the film lies around Neil’s impromptu car crash which resulted in the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle and jail time for the singer. Otherwise, Neil’s daughter’s battle with stomach cancer and Sixx’s brief flatline due to a heroin overdose are there to bring some tears, but the film ultimately falls flat.
Despite many pitfalls, kudos are due to the cast and their uncanny resemblances to each character. At the end of the film scenes were compared to real-life footage of the band and it solidified just how crazy Mötley Crüe actually was. The film does a good job of making audiences feel like they’re watching the actual band from the awfully big hair the band covets to the makeup and leather clothing they wore during shows.
As most people know, biopics should be taken as absolute fact, and The Dirt is no exception. With Tremaine having previously directed multiple Jackass films as well as well some MTV television series, the jump to a big-budget Netflix original was risky, and doesn’t necessarily pay off.
Mötley Crüe may be the bad boys of hair metal, and the band’s music may live on to thousands of fans, but The Dirt isn’t doing any justice to the band’s name. Though a solid attempt, it might just be smarter to pick up the memoir and read that.