If you’ve read Neil Strauss‘ 2001 book, The Dirt, you’ll be prepared for everything offered up in Jeff Tremaine‘s cinematic version of the saga of LA’s greatest scions of darkness, Mötley Crüe.
What you won’t be prepared for is how Tremaine, with the full connivance of the co-producing band members, has turned the compelling, by turns stomach-churning and mirth-inducing tale into a overwhelmingly disappointing set of tawdry set pieces that routinely fail to capture the spirit of the band in any way, shape or form.
If you’re a Crüe fan of longstanding, you’ll have read the book and don’t really need to see the film, which feels overall like a seventies made-for-TV biopic rather than a work of cinematic worth. The first half hour or so is enjoyable as characters establish themselves and the band become Sunset Strip legends. Iwan Rheon in particular impresses as Mick Mars whilst Christian Gehring‘s near-wordless performance as David Lee Roth almost steals the whole show.
But once the band’s manager Doc Mcghee is shoehorned into the story way too early things start to get a bit rocky for the committed fan as Tremaine races from skit to skit – apparently episodes selected for the fact that even Crüe non-coms will have heard about them, rather than that they help the story move along – with Daniel Webber failing to garner any real emotion as Vince Neil staggers from the accident which killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle to the death of his four year old daughter Skylar from cancer.
The ‘day in the life of a rock star’ tableau performed by Colston Baker‘s Tommy Lee is excellently done, the costuming is spot om and Douglas Booth‘s portrayal of Nikki Sixx as he descends into heroin addiction at least shows a partial understanding of the desolation of it’s subject matter, but for the most part The Dirt falls short of just about all of it’s stated war aims; It’s an undemanding watch if you’re not a committed fan, but for the diehards there are just too many annoyances and disappointments to make The Dirt in cinematic form anything more than a once-only view.