The Dirt

Last month, three librarians and their graphic designer bestie took the trip of their lives. They spent ten glorious days in the neighborhood of Paris known as Montmartre drinking wine, eating indescribably delicious food, and gazing at art at every turn. It was a dream of a vacation. A sophisticated, lovely week with not a single spat or a tense word. It was the best time any of them had ever had. One would think to journal about it would be a no-brainer. What a wonderful idea to regale the masses with tales of accordion players and cheese tours. Who wouldn't want to see all 643 photos taken of a delectable brunch? A vacation so grand the vacationer has started speaking of herself in third person. [Record scratches.] What's that? No one wants to see my vacation slides? A thousand people were already forced to look at them on facebook and instagram? Well, fine. We'll leave France behind and come back to the good ol' USA, where, to my absolute delight, I found Mötley Crüe's The Dirt waiting for me on Netflix. Au revoir, Paris! We're in AMERICA now! [Cue guitar solo.] 

If you haven't read The Dirt by "the world's most notorious rock band" Mötley Crüe, by all means, drop what you are doing and read it now. I mean, unless you're easily squeamish... or don't like to read about drugs... or alcoholism... or women being treated badly... and then there's the opening paragraph about the bodily fluids... The king of controversy, Irvine Welsh,could not have created such characters if given the challenge. A friend posed the question on Facebook recently, "Does a character in a book need to be likable in order to keep your interest?" Everyone said yes except for me. I love reading about terrible people! Understandably this is not everyone's thing.

Now you know you should read the book, but should you watch the movie? Well, yeah. I mean, not for, like, the cinematic quality, or the life lessons you're not going to learn, or for the acting by anyone other than Daniel Webber who plays Vince Neil. We have already established that these are terrible people. Tommy Lee (played by Machine Gun Kelly) is still going to cheat on his wife with a porn star and get dumped. Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth) will overdose and have that needle jabbed straight into his heart Uma Thurman style. And don't worry, there will be approximately 247 closeups of needles going into his arm before that! Vince Neil will drive drunk, killing his best friend, and only get a couple of weeks in jail. Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) will keep it cool, though. We always have Mick.

Multiple reviews out there will tell you that this movie isn't very good. They're right, of course. The best acting was performed by the wigs and costumes. Pete Davidson plays a record executive and the casting choice is odd. He is obviously supposed to stick out compared to the others, and he does, but in the wrong way. He's goofy and feels exactly like what he is: a millennial who's been dropped into the 80s without a clue. I also didn't quite understand the casting choice of Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx. He's stiff and has little resemblance to the bassist but the film focuses on Nikki more than the other band members, which is unfortunate. Daniel Webber as Vince Neil is really the only one who has the right swagger and mannerisms of an 80s rock icon. 

Just like hair metal itself, the film is best when it's not taking itself too seriously. And just like rock stars who lose all sense of perspective after becoming too famous too fast, the film takes itself too seriously several times. Those attempts at poignancy worked in the book but fall flat in the movie adaptation. It's hard to watch these men treat everyone and themselves so terribly and then be encouraged to empathize with their problems. 

So, it's bad but it's also a lot of fun. The soundtrack is just as amazing as you'd hope. I had a brief but intense love of hair bands in the late 80s and could sing all of the songs by heart. I distinctly remember being in grade school and my friend Adam bringing over that cassette tape with the scary pentagram on the front. We listened to Shout at the Devil over and over again thinking we were being sneaky and rebellious until my dad heard it and rolled his eyes. Speaking of eyes, is there anything better than looking at this picture of Nikki Sixx high-as-a-kite on heroin at Tommy Lee and Heather Locklear's wedding? 

Not in my opinion!

So, go into this knowing you'll need low expectations and maybe some uncomfortable nostalgic feelings for a time when misogyny wasn't really that big of a deal. Understand that it's a spectacle with some mediocre acting. (One can assume that a man who goes by the name Machine Gun Kelly probably didn't go to Juliard.) Prepare yourself for some entitled men who act like the most spoiled children you've ever seen. But you should also expect to be transported back to 1982 on the Sunset Strip and have a pretty good time while you're there.  

-Sarah Mathews is an Accounts Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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