The Dirt (2019)
written by Rich Wilkes
based on the autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Neil Strauss, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Nikki Sixx
directed by Jeff Tremaine
Sometime in 1985 I turned on MTV and came face to face with the video to Mötley Crüe’s cover Brownsville Station’s Smokin’ in the Boys Room. I remember freaking out when I saw the Dobermann with an inverted pentagram around its neck, immediately thinking this was another one of those Satanic bands I’d been warned about, like Rush (really, how was I that naive?). But hey, these guys’ previous album was called Shout at the Devil (1983) and its cover also featured that upended symbol of the occult. The evidence was clear: Mötley Crüe had sold their souls to the Devil.
Then I watched the rest of the video and realized this was a just a mediocre band having a good time.
I can’t say that over the years I haven’t liked a couple of Mötley Crüe songs. Live Wire (1982), Wild Side (1987), and Kickstart my Heart (1989) all make my list of good hair metal tracks. But the boys were never great musicians, nor did they aspire to be. This was all about living hard and loose, and after the success of Shout at the Devil their nonstop fucking, drinking, and doping became legendary. It all could’ve made for a perfectly fun and sleazy rock biopic, but The Dirt is far from it: The production values are sloppy, the acting is marginal at best, and the dramatic moments (singer Vince Neil’s vehicular manslaughter, bassist Nikki Sixx’s heroin overdose) have all the heft of a soap opera. Even the performance reenactments feel fake.
For all its outrageous scenes – squirting vaginas, strippers getting puked on, Ozzy Osbourne licking his own pee – The Dirt turns out to be one big bore. Maybe their episode of VH1 Behind the Music is more exciting.
Carlos I. Cuevas