The movie directed by Jeff Tremaine which has just come out on Netflix, is an orgy of sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll, and tattoos, of course. So let’s go and find out some more.
If you are planning on watching “The Dirt”, the Netflix biopic based on the bestseller written by Neil Strauss published in 2001 and based on the career of Mötley Crüe, you’d better not be expecting the movie to deal with the 1980s.
The ‘80s. Those were the years when the Californian band was working on their reputation for dissolution while coming out with their most successful albums.
From “Too Fast for Love” (1981) to the universally known “Dr. Feelgood” and the milestones “Shout at the Devil” (1983), and “Theatre of Pain” (1985), not to mention the iconic – right from the strippers and Harley Davidson tattoos on the album cover – “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1987).
No, “The Dirt” is first and foremost the story of a complicated childhood: that of Frank Cartlon Ferrana Jr. who, in 1973, decided to abandon his hometown (Seattle) and his mother who never gave him any real affection, and move to the far more exciting location of Los Angeles.
He was there to realise his dream of starting a band but it was also to get even with life which had been pretty tough on him up till then.
Once he had made his peace with the fact that he would never be getting back on good terms with his father, Frank gave his life a new direction and changed his name to Nikki Sixx.
From that moment on, he gave his all to getting his dream band on the road, taking on drummer Tommy Lee, guitarist Mick Mars (a great musician who has suffered since childhood from a debilitating disease) and a little blond guy from the cover band Rock Candy who, despite some initial doubts, finally accepted. And the rest, as they say, is history.
And by the way, the name of that little blond guy is Vince Neil.
So the question is this: is “The Dirt” a musical biopic that deserves to be celebrated like the recent “Bohemian Rhapsody” about frontman Freddie Mercury and the rise of Queen?
In some respects, it does, but there are still some doubts. Especially as far as the screenplay is concerned. And the script, for the record, was written by the band themselves.
One of the strong points of the movie is undoubtedly the brilliant direction of Jeff Tremaine (one of the guys behind Jackass) who, with his visionary approach and original shooting (see that scene with Tommy Lee under the influence of different chemical substances) takes us on a rip-roaring ride, one hundred minutes of high voltage viewing where the group who made “Live Wire” is on a never-ending bender.
A movie party where the physical performances of Vince and the gang are in perfect synch with the performances in playback (the best of which include “Home sweet home” and “Kickstart my heart”) in an over the top orgy of sex, excess, bad language, rock intensity and all kinds of depravation.
But it’s far more interesting getting an insight into the childhood of Frank/Nikki with an excellent voice over by Sixx himself who tells us in plain words about the darkest, direst periods of the band. Painful situations we won’t tell you about here to avoid spoilers.
So as we said at the start, the legendary ’80s are there but in the background, and the focus is more on the politically incorrect and totally over the top vision of the ever-present Mötley Crüe rather than on the spirit of the times (which, alright, was decadent, but was also highly creative) which was deliberately left out of the screenplay.
The cast is utterly convincing thanks to the wild performance of rapper Machine Gun Kelly (real name Richard Colson Baker and also covered in tattoos in real life) who plays Tommy Lee, not to mention Douglas Booth (the English model who plays the part of Nikki Sixx), the Australian Daniel Webber (Vince Neil) and Iwan Rheon (Mick Mars).
It is Rheon in particular who packs a charismatic punch, and many of you will remember him as the insane Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.
And all praise for the short cameo appearance by Tony Cavalero who gives us a mesmerising and absolutely hilarious Ozzy Osbourne.
So enjoy watching “The Dirt”!
Catch up here on the tattooed interview with John Corabi, the singer who stood in for Vince Neil in Mötley Crüe for a brief period during the ’90s.