Movie Review: The DIRT

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dirt, theNetflix
2019
TV-MA

“We wanna knock people on their asses and we gotta give them a show. I’m talking like on stage or in clubs. The fans, they’re ding for some anarchy. So let’s give it to them.”

This seems to be the era of the biopic; we’ve already had the Queen / Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and there’s going to be one for Elton John starring that kid that was in the Kingsmen movie (probably part of the deal Elton made for being in the second Kingsmen movie…?). Of course, for those of us who grew up in the 80s instead of the 70s, the long-gestating movie-fied version of Motley Crue’s tell-all memoir book The Dirt was the one that many an old metalhead was waiting for. Finally, then, the movie was made, and released…on Netflix.

Yeah, despite evidence to the contrary, I still have this stigma about movies being released to a streaming service directly, rather than to the theaters. I know, that shouldn’t be an indication of the quality of the movie itself; however, it’s hard to not equate Direct To Streaming with Direct To Video (or DVD), and there are many bad movies released directly to that format. It doesn’t stop me from watching them, mind you.

Anyway, being a fan of the 80s iteration of the ultimate sleazy glam metal mo-fos to come out of the Sunset Strip–yeah, they lost me when they canned Vince back in 1992, and never really got me back when they came back to their senses after that self-titled album–I was interested in watching this movie. I’ve read bits of the book itself, but I don’t own it. Though, being a voracious reader of all of the rock and metal mags back in the 80s, I knew my Motley Crue history…or, at least the history that the media portrayed. So, the question was, is The Dirt going to dive into the dark, seedy underbelly of the band’s history and unearth things that even the hardest of hardcore Motley Crue fans didn’t know? Or is this going to be more of a self-serving edited down history that glosses over a lot of things and presenting hardly anything anyone already knew?

The answer is, “Yes.”

Just like with Bohemian Rhapsody, we’re talking about a band that had been around for over three decades before calling it a career. This isn’t like The Doors, where the band itself was only together for a handful of years before the singer died and no one cared about the band carrying on anymore after that. Anyone expecting an exhaustive documentary-style biopic…well, I don’t think anyone was actually expecting that kind of movie.

The movie glosses over some things, and leaves some things out entirely, and plays a bit loose with some facts, in the interest of time and streamlining things for the viewer. And I’m okay with that. I was expecting that, actually. And the movie itself realizes this, and lampshades some things directly explaining how things are different here than what really happened; there’s a scene where the band’s soon-to-be manager “Doc” McGhee shows up at the band’s apartment during an after-show party to introduce himself, and Mick Mars turns to the camera and starts explaining that McGhee never really went to their apartment, but they cut out the actual guy because of reasons. That was rather brilliant, really, I kind of wish they did that in Bohemian Rhapsody. It would have explained some of the editing choices.

The Dirt doesn’t flinch away from portraying the overtly decadent side of things. Within the first five minutes, the movie earns its TV-MA rating (which is the equivalent to “R”), with enough nudity, drug use and sexual debauchery to make you wonder if you stumbled upon a remake of Caligula by mistake. The actors, while not exactly replicas of the band members they’re portraying, retain the exact spirit of the band, with Machine Gun Kelly being the best Tommy Lee clone going. Who’da thunk that a rapper would play a metal drummer so affably? Though, it makes sense, given Tommy’s foray into rap back in the 90s, there.

Long story short, The Dirt was far more entertaining than it should have been. I found myself chuckling at the era that I grew up in and embraced as a pimply, overweight Midwest teenager who didn’t look all that flattering in spandex and hair spray, but that didn’t stop me darn it. And in case you’re about to do a Google search, no. No pictures exist of me like that. So don’t waste your time. Do I recommend watching The Dirt? Yes. Yes I do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go throw on Shout At The Devil and Dr. Feelgood, in that order.

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Albums That Suck: KNEE DEEP IN THE HOOPLA (Starship)

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starship - knee deep in the hoopla
KNEE DEEP IN THE HOOPLA
Starship
Grunt / RCA
1985

[note: this was originally going to be another SONGS THAT SUCK article, focusing on the Starship song “We Built This City”; as I continued writing, though, it became apparent that I couldn’t just stick to the song itself; I had to, in fact, talk about the entire album…sorry – Uncle NecRo]

The 80s was an interesting time for pop music. Not only was this the era where artists and bands like Prince, Madonna, George Michael and others exploded, but this was also the decade where a lot of older classic rock artists that your dad was into had a resurgence on Top 40 radio. Results varied; artists like Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner and Alice Cooper managed to snag a resurgence of popularity, whereas ones like The Grateful Dead, Donny Osmond and Jefferson Starship…not so much.

Speaking of the Jefferson Starship: by the time they got around to releasing their big comeback album–Knee Deep In The Hoopla–they had gone through enough personnel changes that the only remaining original member was Grace Slick, and due to legal issues, the band had to shorten things to just Starship. They had gone from 60s rock n’ roll icons to middle-aged corporate rockers, and released an album full of glossy pop rock with layered synths and electronic beats, with the band decked out like they were the fashion models for the JC Penny Back-to-School Clothing Sale catalog.

I was 11 in the late summer of 1985 when Starship released the single “We Built This City”, and I absolutely loved it. Keep in mind that the majority of my music tastes was dictated to me by Top 40 radio, much like any other preteen of, well, any era, really. I had no idea what the band’s actual legacy was, who they were or that they were once considered rock n’ roll icons to my dad. And since I wasn’t old enough to know any better, I talked my dad into buying me the cassette copy of Knee Deep In The Hoopla when he was visiting my sister and me while on leave from the Navy.

As songs go, “We Built This City” is cringe-worthy, but it isn’t the worst song on the album. That distinction goes to the cut “Rock Myself To Sleep”, personally speaking. Keep in mind, I wanted this album to listen to primarily on the strength of the song “We Built This City”. I didn’t particularly care for the second single released from there, “Sara”, which was also the second single released, although I do like the accompanying video.

It’s a good thing that “We Built This City” was the first song on the album, because that meant that I didn’t have to wade my way through what was essentially a collection of mediocre adult contemporary pop rock to get to it. It was there, leading off the album, and I could just hit “stop” afterwards and be done with it. But, I felt obligated to listen to the album in its entirety at least once. And man, this album is just boring. Full of fluff and filler. Even the song that led to me buying the thing in the first place is, in retrospect, just bad. And not in the Guilty Pleasures kind of way. I can’t hear this song now and not cringe. You can imagine what the rest of the album sounds like.

I’ve recently taken up collecting vinyl records again, with an eye out to collect the albums that I listened to in my childhood through the end of my High School years. I’ve even picked up a mint copy of Make It Big by Wham!. Even though this was part of my childhood, Knee Deep In The Hoopla will never be part of my vinyl collection. Or any format, for that matter.

::END TRANSMISSION::