I am so excited to be discussing The Dirt with you today. The highly awaited biopic of the trashiest, nastiest group of bad boys rock has ever seen hit Netflix March 22, 2019. This Netflix Original is based on the autobiography of the same name, which was written by the band members with the help of Amanda Adelson. I made the choice to dive into the visual world of Motley Crue at my own risk, knowing ahead of time that the kids had to go to bed first.
I grew up on the Crue. My dad kept his guitar in my nursery; leather case pushed up under my crib. When I would wake up from a nap, he would come in, plug up and play for me. He says I would jump and jump and jump some more. One time I even bounced out and landed on my neck. I guess because of the shock, I didn’t cry. He thought for sure I was dead. He grabbed me and ran up and down the stairs holding me, with no other idea what to do. Just up and down the stairs…up and down…up and down. It’s one of his favorite stories to tell. But he would sit in my room and play Motley Crue; one of his all-time favorite bands of the time. Needless to say, I had to see this film. Plus, it was a proud day when I told my dad that I would be writing about this film and people would actually be reading it!
And yet, going into this film, I had my doubts. I personally didn’t think the world was ready to hear Motley Crue’s story. I know the boys are getting up there in age but come on! They’re not completely decrepit and they’re not dead yet! Isn’t it too early? I was afraid that the acting would be awful. Aside from Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), which everyone knew was going to be a masterpiece; I just did not think that another rock film, especially one that displays everything every parent hated about rock lovers of the crazy 1980s, would be given its fair shake. Motley Crue just wouldn’t get the film they deserved.
Sometimes it just feels so good to be wrong.
The director, Jeff Tremaine, starts us off in an awesome way. He decides to give us first-person background information on each band members’ entrance into the band, starting with bassist, Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth). We see him grow up with a sorry excuse for a mother and we see him sign away his surname and become Mr. Sixx. We see him meet the infamous drummer, Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly) and watch their friendship blossom into the beginnings of a hard rock band that wants to actually “go the distance”. We see Mr. Lee’s polar opposite upbringing through his eyes and we see him plunge into heartbreak over and over again. We are then introduced to lead guitarist, Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon); and here I have to stop for just a second.
Was anyone else floored with surprise to see that Ramsay Bolton of Game of Thrones was playing Mick Mars? Surely it wasn’t just me. I honestly thought that I couldn’t possibly take him seriously! My husband and I were both under the impression that we were going to be rolling with laughter throughout. “Battle of the Bastards” jokes were imminent. But it didn’t happen. His acting was just too good.
Everything comes together when the guys meet singer, Vince Neil (Daniel Webber) and their fate is sealed. Together they meet talent scout and producer Tom (Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live) and the roller coaster career of Motley Crue takes off like a bat out of hell. Massive record sales, world tours and excessive alcohol, drugs and groupie-love lead to the brightest of days and the darkest of nights. They destroyed hotel rooms and harassed bystanders. They ripped away the dignity of many a young woman and offended churches, elders and parents all around the world. But they were each working through their own darkness. There was no Twitter to keep fans informed of the happenings of daily life and no other social media presence to hold the band members accountable.
Booth personifies Nikki Sixx’s dark descent into the hell of heroin addiction and I swear it is by the grace of something holier than heavy metal that the man still breathes today. I read Nikki’s autobiography when it was released and Booth flawlessly put into film what Sixx put into words years ago. Machine Gun Kelly, whose music I loathe but whose acting I greatly admire, became the Tommy Lee we all love to hate: woman-punching, drug-fueled and maniacal. Iwan Rheon’s deadpan rendition of Mick was an absolute bullseye. The unfairness and cruelty of debilitation due to his crippling disease of the spine was gut-wrenching and throughout the film, Mick becomes a little more stooped and bitter as the band thrives and his health declines.
Finally, Daniel Webber shows us what it was like for pretty-boy heart-throb Vince. Alcoholism led to the death of a friend and jail time for vehicular manslaughter. Then life punched back and brought the death of his sweet little girl, Skylar, who suffered through cancer and daddy’s fortune and fame couldn’t stop it. Bless the sweetheart that played little Skylar (Kamryn Ragsdale), because her acting was achingly beautiful and so very believable.
Each of them dealt with their own pain in the unhealthiest of ways and yet they all came through to the other side. No one really knows how and no one really knows if they deserved the many extra chances they received in life. My dad always told me it was the music, not the men that made Motley Crue a rock n’ roll force to be respected. I know he was right, but at the same time, the men have to be the men they are in order to create the music. I’m so thankful they did. In 1988 and 1989, I headbanged in my crib to Dr. Feelgood. In 2008, I saw Motley Crue on one of their last tours and was blown away! On July 5, 2014, the happiest day of my life, I danced with my daddy to Home Sweet Home for our father/daughter wedding dance.
In 2019, I saw the biopic of the lives of the most notorious rockers to ever paint their faces, squeeze into those too-tight leather pants and they will “Kickstart My Heart” forever. Devil horns way, way up for The Dirt!