For years I’ve avoided reviewing Netflix movies. While they’re immensely popular, the quality of film isn’t up to theater standards. Some will tell you they are, others will say they are not.
While the media service has shown improvement, I’m of the “not” category.
Until this review, I’ve only done one Netflix film. It was “The Highwaymen” with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. The film was about two former Texas Rangers who — in the 1930s — hunted and killed Bonnie and Clyde. It was okay but didn’t really rock my boat.
It was the second film Netflix offered me. The first was in late March and is titled, “The Dirt.” This is one I really wanted to do. I’m a musician, a drummer, still playing in bands and this is a biopic about Mötley Crüe. It’s always fun to see how well producers, directors, writers and actors manage such topics.
They mostly bomb but once in awhile — like the Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” — they get it right. Not necessarily right in terms of chronology and all but right in terms of it being a good movie.
Netflix, my studio rep and I weren’t quite able to get the technology down, so I had to skip the film. Since then I’ve had no less than a dozen people asking me if I’ve seen the movie.
After much nagging from friends and fans of my column, I broke down, opened up Netflix and gave it a shot. Good decision. This is a very good movie and one that is especially fun for those that grew up listening to the band’s very original but really not all that original music.
I’m not a Mötley Crüe expert so that’s just my opinion. However, for some their music was an acquired taste. Others think they’re as good as a metal band can get. I sit somewhere in the middle. For non-fans and those not knowing much about the band, Mötley Crüe’s crew — Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx — were rock gods. They were hottest in the 1980s and through much of the 1990s. It — however — appears to me the rock legend phase began in the mid 1990s and beyond.
Whatever you call them, you can’t knock that they’ve sold over 100 million albums and all four members are multi-millionaires.
Except for maybe Joe Walsh, part of why this big hair, glam metal band is considered legendary, is self-indulgences that made the hard rockers that came before them look tame. More than any band in history they excelled at drugging, drunkenness, sexual escapes, hotel room trashing and disrespecting just about anyone who wasn’t in the band.
Or so says their book, “The Dirt,” and now this movie.
Lee, Sixx, Mars and Neil, their friends, and the celebs they encountered are done by relatively unknown actors — in some cases — wearing relatively decent wigs. The unknown nature of the actors helps sell the premise. What also helps is producers, writers and directors that — like “Bohemian Rhapsody” — understand the need for authenticity.
That means the casting of actors that look a lot like the real band members, and the people and the celebrities who crossed the band’s path.
It is the indulgences and how director Jeff Tremaine (“Bad Grandpa,” “Jackass”) and screenwriters Amanda Adelson (her 1st) and Rich Wilkes (“xXx”) portray those indulgences and tell Mötley Crüe’s story that make this movie so fun. Even the darkest subjects are treated with tongue-in-cheek humor.
Quite often Tremaine and the scriptwriters allow the band members and others in their story to step out and address the audience directly. It’s a technique that — when done right — really helps give a story movement.
And this one has plenty of movement.
While I was never a Mötley Crüe fan, I love the movie. My recommendation comes with a couple of asterisks. First, like “Bohemian Rhapsody” — and a lot of other biopics — the movie gets a lot of things wrong, has some events in the wrong order, and never mentions the media-addicted story of the marriage of Tommy Lee to “Baywatch”-babe Pamela Anderson.
It does, however, admit right off the bat that not all of what you’ll see is true.
Second, “The Dirt” is not for everyone. The TV MA rated film is packed with language, gratuitous nudity and heavy drug use. However, the serious nature of the movie is also seriously funny. That’s seriously as in the laugh-out-loud variety.
Now you have the dirt on “The Dirt.”
▪ Rated MA for mature themes, nudity, language. It’s playing on Netflix.
▪ Rating: 4 out of 5