Jackass/Bad Grandpa Director Jeff Tremaine to Helm Film Adaptation of Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt

  • Axl Rosenberg

jeff tremaine the dirtI’d be just as happy to never see a cinematic adaptation of The Dirt, Mötley Crüe and author Neil Strauss’ Rashomon-esque memoir chronicling the band’s heyday. It’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read and it’s virtually impossible for me to imagine a movie doing it justice for a number of reasons.

But there’s (probably) money to be made, and so it seems inevitable that the tome will someday be transformed into a movie. In fact, they’ve already been trying to get one off the ground for years; for a long time, Borat/Curb Your Enthusiasm director Larry Charles was attached to helm a script by Airheads/xXx screenwriter Rich Wilkes. The project kept stalling, but I do recall a rumor that Jackass star Johnny Knoxville was circling the role of Nikki Sixx.

And he may get to play Sixx yet: according to Deadline, Jeff Tremaine, director of all things Jackass (including current box office hit Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa) is now attached to the project.

I honestly don’t know if that bodes well for the movie or not, because we judge by Tremaine’s previous work. I think Jackass is hilarious, but it’s also without a narrative; even Bad Grandpa barely has a story… really just enough to get you from one gag to the next. Which is fine, because those movies are all about the gags… but The Dirt is going to have to offer something a little more.

Tremaine, for his part, seems to be aware of this fact, which is a good sign:

“I’ve been careful to make this a natural progression. I’ve been offered a lot of scripts but Dirt is something I pursued with everything I had. I’ve wanted to make this going back to 2001, when we were just planning the firstJackass movie and I found out that David Gale at MTV Films had just optioned the book. First of all, I had no idea how to make Jackass into a movie, but I said to him, let me direct that movie, too. He said, yeah, of course! He was being sarcastic, because he had the same level of confidence in me as a director as I did at that time. Luckily for me, the movie never got made, and when this project became available, I put everything I had into chasing it and convincing everyone that I am the right guy for it. I really feel I am.”

Tremaine then elaborated on why he thinks he’s the right man for the job:

“We were deep into doing Jackass on TV and about to start doing Jackass: The Movie and we were all passing the book around and going, holy shit. We thought we were being crazy on the road. You read about these guys and it was like 10 times worse, though I think we’d done stuff that stands up to anybody else. I connected with that book on so many levels. From a band of brothers that gets ripped apart and then pulls back together, or being part of a group that is expected to behave badly, and what happens to you when that becomes your expectation. What happens when everybody encourages you and gives you money to be the worst behaved you can be? You can do no wrong, and the worse you do, the more you’re celebrated. It is a story that is somehow familiar to me.”

So the man is certainly saying the right things. And it’s encouraging that Wilkes’ script, which I didn’t think was very good*, is getting “a polish”  by Californication creator and avowed metalhead Tom Kapinos.

In fact, Tremaine only says one thing in the article that sets off alarm bells for me:

“It’s the spirit we’ve got to get right. It’s important to get actors who play, or who understand how to deliver the charisma it takes to be onstage. Rock stars have a swagger. Some of what they went through is funny, but overall this movie is not going to be a comedy. It’s pretty dark. I think fans of what I’ve done will like this movie, but it’s not going to make you fall out of your chair laughing.”

The Dirt most certainly is dark… but that’s not why people love it. It’s hard for me to imagine Tremaine allowing this thing to get too glum, but really, trying to turn it into Ray or Walk the Line would a massive error. I’m a Mötley Crüe fan, but they have neither the artistic nor the social gravitas for that.

But for now, I choose to remain optimistic about this. I mean, it’s not like they just attached the director of Predator 5 or anything, right?

*Full disclosure: Wilkes once read one of my prior articles about his screenplay here on MetalSucks and e-mailed me to ask which draft I’d read. I told him the date on the cover page, and he said the draft was old… but he also declined to send me a newer draft. So for all I know, Wilkes totally nailed it during his subsequent work on the script.

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