Netflix Review – The Dirt (2019)

The thumbnail for The Dirt isn’t exactly click-bait. Indeed, Ozzy Osbourne does hoover up a line of ants in the movie (and in real life). However, these small bursts of outlandish action – entertaining as they are – only occasionally litter an otherwise mediocre narrative. The Dirt is certainly wild, which director Jeff Tremaine makes clear from the opening party scene. But the sheer ferocity of The Dirt – constantly bombarding viewers with extravagant scenes – can’t mask what is essentially another hollowed out, musician biopic.

Following the rise and fall of heavy metal band Motley Crue, The Dirt attempts to sculpt three-dimensional characters with brief backstories. Within the first five minutes of the film, we’ve already met protagonist Nikki Sixx’s alcoholic mother and her stream of abusive boyfriends. These scenes, supposedly included as explanations for the band’s erratic, troubled adulthood, are hurriedly skimmed through. It’s as if Tremaine is simply going through the motions of film making, rather than taking his time to form connections.

That isn’t to say the characters aren’t likable. Despite their selfish, misogynistic behavior, viewers can’t help but root for Motley Crue’s flamboyant passion. The Dirt has a handful of experimental moments- such as breaking the fourth wall or a POV sequence of the nightly rock-star routine. The Dirt attempts an honest portrayal of four unhinged stars, bound together by friendship. But the hurried, predictable formula and overly expositional narration bag it up as just one more clichéd biography. Mommy-issues, taking drugs, breaking-up then making-up…nothing escapes the ordinary dramatic tropes.

Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee, Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx, Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars

Although The Dirt is based on real life (meaning the stereotypical events aren’t in Tremaine’s control), it’s the lackluster film making that really dulls it down. Heroine addiction and car accidents hold huge potential for engaging, dramatic storytelling. However, Tremaine manages to excavate them with uninspired montages, trying to cover too much ground over the entire band’s life.

The Dirt is certainly an entertaining movie, with many humorous moments and touching scenes. But without time for true character development, the plodding and then this happened structure lets The Dirt down. Despite it’s potential. It’s bold and reckless, mirroring the lifestyle of a young rock band with a constant drill of adrenaline. At least…up until the final, somewhat humdrum, few scenes.

Overall, The Dirt is a glamorous movie that attempts to convey allegories on friendship and love. Yet it falls short on delivery, glazing over predictable plot points and unlikely to inspire any wannabe musicians out there.

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