Reviews: Motley Crue biopic 'The Dirt' comes to Netflix, 'Us' and 'The Russian Five' invade theaters, March 22
Netflix, 2019.

The box office favorite this week looks to be the new horror film from Jordan Peele, who surprised almost everybody with his break-out crowd-pleaser, "Get Out," back in 2017. His latest effort is "Us," and it is poised to be the first film to knock "Captain Marvel" out of the top spot. 

But music-lovers have another highly-anticipated film to look forward to this weekend. "The Dirt" is now available on Netflix and is a Motley Crue biopic based on the autobiography of the band-mates themselves.

Here are reviews of these films and more, seeing release this weekend, Friday, March 22, 2019:


"Us"

Everybody loves Jordan Peele. The comedian-turned-horror-icon-in-the-making is the sort of guy you want to root for, and his surprisingly poignant, thrilling, box office hit, "Get Out," made everyone take notice. Because "Get Out" was so successful, there's a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding the release of his latest film, simply titled "Us," another entry into the horror genre, but layered with the astute, sociopolitical commentary we've already come to expect from Peele. The problem is, if you were to see "Us" not knowing that it was Jordan Peele's film, you might discard it as just another jumbled misfire...a well-intentioned thriller that doesn't quite gel.

Lupita Nyong'o stars as a mother of a seemingly normal family, who begin being terrorized by some sort of doppelgangers, that look exactly like them. They discover that this terror is happening on a larger scale, and as they attempt to fight back against - themselves - we are given lessons on duality, the fear of the unknown, and how ultimately, we are our own worst enemy.

In isolated scenes, Peele shows that he truly is a budding master of horror. There are great chase sequences, some tense moments and more than a few jump-out-of-your-seat scares. But the movie doesn't piece together effectively. First off, there are several long scenes of explanation, as characters go out of their way to explain in detail what is going on. The explanations aren't even all that effective, because most movie-goers will leave the theater wanting to discuss more...but not the sort of "wow that was deep!" talk, but more like "um, what the heck was going on?" variety. I'd go so far as to say that the movie doesn't quite add up, and for those saying they need to see it again before giving an honest opinion, wouldn't give a non-Jordan-Peele horror movie the same amount of leniency.

It is possible to love Jordan Peele, think he is our modern-day Alfred Hitchcock-in-the-making, and still admit that "Us" isn't all that it should be. Sure, there's a lot to like, and some of the messages Peele is addressing are important, but as a cohesive movie, "Us" just isn't all that good.

Grade: C+

Rated R.
Genre: Horror, Thriller. Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes.
Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss.
Directed by Jordan Peele ("Get Out").


"The Dirt"

Raw, abrasive and as in-your-face as the band it's depicting, "The Dirt" tells the story of Motley Crue, and it's a rockin' good time.

Based on the autobiography from the band themselves, "The Dirt" goes back to the beginning of Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth), Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and Vince Neil (Daniel Webber) in the early 80s and gives us an unflinching look at what it was like to be a literal band of misfits. The words sex, drugs and rock-n-roll don't quite begin to explain their lifestyle, and it's a perfect fit that the director of the "Jackass" movies, Jeff Tremaine, is the rebel in charge of harnessing this madness.

The cast is absolutely pitch-perfect, and there is a bubbling energy underneath every frame, making this a more satisfying music biopic than even the Oscar-winning "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's way more authentic-feeling too, as these things really happened, as told from what the band mates can recall (which I guess is subject to scrutiny, considering the amount of drugs they sniffed, injected and smoked over the course of their careers).

While "The Dirt" will land perfectly with those that love the Crue and its members, it's also a spot-on period piece, celebrating the MTV 1980s in all of its big-haired glory. This is also a deeply funny movie, and one that doesn't play by any existing rules...a fitting tribute to a motley crew of gentlemen that consistently did the same.

Grade: A-

Rated TV-MA.
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama. Run Time: 1 hour 47 minutes.
Starring: Douglas Booth, Daniel Webber, Iwan Rheon, Machine Gun Kelly, Pete Davidson.
Directed by Jeff Tremaine ("Bad Grandpa," "Jackass: The Movie").


"The Russian Five"

Anyone with ties to Detroit will love the new documentary "The Russian Five," a film that tells the story of the Detroit Red Wings dynasty that developed in the late 90s and changed the face of North American hockey forever.

The story of Russian hockey players Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyachaslav Koslov, Igor Larionov and Vlachaslav Fetisov is intertwined with the story of the birth of what would be known as "Hockeytown." It was risky business to draft Russian players when the Detroit Red Wings drafted young phenom Fedorov, because there was no guarantee that these Russian players would be able to escape their country. For many of them, defection meant the risk of death, not only for them but for their families. But these men did come to play hockey in the NHL, and the rest as they say, is history.

The Russian style of "keep-away" hockey was a new concept in the States and in Canada, and these men single-handedly changed the game. They ended up giving Detroit their first championship team in 42 years and repeated by winning the Stanley Cup twice-in-a-row to close out the decade. But as Detroiters know, that first championship was short-lived when a terrible limo crash ended the career of defensive powerhouse Vladimir Konstantinov and trainer Sergei Mnatsakanov...the Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup in their honor the following year.

The movie itself tends to get caught up in the fervor of Hockeytown and the team's success, sort of getting away from the Russian players for a bit, and it would have been great to have dug a little deeper on some of the KGB/spy stuff that was alluded to at the beginning of the film. But any Detroiter watching this movie won't care...this movie brings back all of the excitement, all of the pride, all of the love, that was felt for this team and this city, not all that long ago. For everyone else, "The Russian Five" will still work as an effective but somewhat shallow retelling of one of the most transformative periods in American sports.

Grade: B+

Not Rated.
Genre: Documentary, Sport. Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.
Directed by Joshua Riehl (feature-length directorial debut).


"Gloria Bell"

This film was not reviewed but opens in limited-release this weekend.

Rated R.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance. Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Sean Astin, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Alanna Ubach.
Directed by Sebastian Lelio ("Gloria").


All of these movies open Friday, March 22, 2019. Check here for show times.

Movies opening next weekend include: "Dumbo" and "The Highwaymen."