It's been 18 years since the members of hair metal band Mötley Crüe released their tell-all book The Dirt, and streaming giant Netflix has given it the feature treatment in a new film with the same old title. A tour through the band's founding, its absolutely insane years of drug and alcohol use, that rise to super-stardom and, eventually, its members sobering up and growing into living mummies with the collective skin of an old baseball glove, it's no small wonder The Dirt won't ever make it to the big screen. It's terrible.
From the confusing choice to give each principal band member (or the actors who play them, anyway) their own sections of narration despite irksomely similar voices, to the problematic way the film version of The Dirt lionizes Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil's utter disrespect for women and each other, what we get is a disjointed biopic-lite that would've felt right at home on the Lifetime network were it not for its crassness. The scene wherein Ozzy drinks his own urine is enough to make us wince, and it doesn't get much better anyplace else in the movie.
Maybe it would get better toward the end, when all their nonsense catches up with them? Naw, that's done awfully, too.
Particularly challenging is the daytime TV-caliber acting, especially from the likes of the usually talented Iwan Rheon (of Hulu's wildly underrated The Misfits and a little show called Game of Thrones) as guitarist Mick Mars. He seems more bored than we do by the cocaine-fueled juvenile antics of the rest of the band, though it feels like we're supposed to find such things heroic or funny; maybe it's just meant to illustrate that Mars was older than the rest and suffering from a debilitating bone disorder? Whatever. He still sucks.
Similar marks go to Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx and some dude named Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee, two actors who sound like they're reciting from memory rather than, y'know, acting. Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, however, does show promise—or maybe he was just the only one with actual plot points/real-life events outside of doing too much coke and punching women in the face. SNL cast member Pete Davidson's in this thing, too, and he's just so bad it's hardly worth mentioning.
And so, if the goal was to wow us, to shock us or to otherwise show us how far Mötley Crüe's members came despite the perilous road to fame and wealth, The Dirt fails, leaving instead a bad taste in our mouths and the disappointment from knowing that the song "On With the Show" is forever ruined because we know just how far into asshole-dom these dudes sank. The Dirt may have been fast-tracked in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody's success, but it still feels like this one's for super-fans only—and it might ruin the band for them, too.
+Vince Neil stuff resembles depth
-We hate these people; the music is worse than we remembered
Directed by Jeff Tremaine
With Kelly, Rheon, Booth and Webber
Netflix, NR, 107 min.