“The Dirt”, based on the band’s best-selling autobiography, charts the rise of four Californian youngsters who channel the punk rage of the 1970s into the big-haired rock genre that, for many people, defined the 1980s.
Like the hugely successful Queen movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”, it is a rags-to-riches tale of flamboyant showbiz glory and the perils of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
“I think that’s what’s exciting for people about the Queen movie: there’s a band who wrote their own music, they were their own personalities and they lived their life the way they lived their life,” Motley Crue founder Nikki Sixx told Reuters.
“It’s the same for Motley Crue.”
The film begins with a neglected young Sixx being taken into care after cutting his own arm and blaming it on his drunkard mother – setting up a theme of self-abuse that runs through a story where Jack Daniels flows like water and anything sniffable goes up the musicians’ noses.
A stand-out scene is when Motley Crue are touring with Ozzy Osbourne who, when he discovers they have no spare cocaine to give him, crouches down and snorts a line of live ants from the floor.
“It was somebody that we looked up to, and still look up to, who was wild, and we were a wild young band,” Sixx said. “We thought we could compete with that, but you can’t with Ozzy, he won!”
While viewers will draw inevitable comparisons to the 1984 heavy metal mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap”, Sixx said he hoped “The Dirt” had some of the emotional heft and “graininess” of “Boogie Nights” or even “Goodfellas”.
“Everyone thinks that Motley Crue glamorized drugs and sex – well that’s not true,” said Allen Kovac, the band’s manager and one of the film’s producers.
“The Beatles glamorized LSD … Keith Richards glamorized heroin. What we wanted to do is to deglamorize it – show what can happen to people, their families, their friends. And I think accomplishing that … took courage by the band.”
“The Dirt” is released on Netflix on March 22.