The rumours, delays and toing and froing are over, at long last the film adaptation of Motley Crue’s warts and all book The Dirt is finally here. Just as lewd, crude and rude as you expect it is full of sex and drugs and – when they could find the time – rock and roll. To portray the madness what better director than Jeff Tremaine, best known for Bad Grandpa and the utter chaos that is Jackass.
It follows the bands formation, the perilous highs, the dangerous lows and the array of hedonistic, sordid and criminal activities that went on in between. With a debauched, Wolf of Wall Street-esque opening scene it starts as it means to go on – excessive and in your face. All the main touchstones are covered, from that Ozzy Osbourne bit, the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, and Nikki Sixx’s troubles with heroin, to marital disharmony, Vince Neil’s departure, and the passing of his daughter Skylar.
It is an entertaining slice of Hollywood with a few surprisingly dark turns – criminality, violence, death and despair not far away – all wrapped up in a cheesy, feel good ending. Refreshingly it does not portray them as saints, showing the narcissism, selfishness and disregard for women that so often comes with the rockstar lifestyle – especially in the ‘80s.
It does gloss over a fair bit though; marriages, managers, Tommy Lee’s time in jail, Vince Neil’s frequent violent/drunk brushes with the law and most of the 90s and 00s. Streamlining was to be expected though in order to make it under two hours and to make you sympathise with them a bit more.
The actors playing Motley Crue were ably picked; Daniel Webber portrays sex crazed frontman Vince Neil admirably. Machine Gun Kelly depicts the restless hyperactivity of Tommy Lee rather well. Iwan Rheon’s (yes, Ramsey Bolton from Game of Thrones) take on the talented outsider Mick Mars is great, complete with a marvellously ridiculous wig. The standout performance belongs to Douglas Booth, his take on Nikki Sixx, the troubled bassist from a broken home, is engaging from the off.
As big, dumb and excessive as the band in their heyday, The Dirt is an entertaining rockumentary that does not shy away from the darker side. It is not award winning and it may be shallow but it is fun.