“The Dirt,” the film chronicling 1980s glam metal band Mötley Crüe is now streaming on Netflix.  Structurally, it resembles a by-the-numbers music biopic, full of the sort of cliches that “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” was making fun of more than a decade ago, while adding a little more drugs and a hell of a lot more sex.

It’s not great, but it’s undoubtedly a better film than “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Even if the music isn't nearly as good.

“The Dirt” was directed by Jeff Tremaine, who directed all four “Jackass” movies and is, therefore, no stranger to men behaving disgustingly. The film itself was written by Rich Wilkes, a veteran of the Vin Diesel “XXX” franchise.

The film is an adaptation of Mötley Crüe's 2001 memoir, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band.” That book, written with Neil Strauss, is generally considered one of the filthiest, most hedonistic rock biographies of all time. The only possible rival is Stephen Davis' 1985 Led Zeppelin offering, “Hammer of the Gods,” which has never gotten a movie adaptation – for several very good reasons.

The Dirt does remain faithful to the general spirit of the source material, although some of the more notorious stuff from the book is omitted, most notably a certain gross anecdote involving breakfast burritos. It does, however, leave in a scene in which the band meets Ozzy Osbourne poolside. In order to demonstrate the necessity of the rock n' roll lifestyle, Osbourne does some unspeakably gross stuff involving ants and urine. (Ozzy is played by Tony Cavalero, who plays the Jack Black part on the Nickelodeon version of “School of Rock.”)

Every time the characters sit down at a table, you can guess that women are waiting below to fellate them. Creating multi-dimensional female characters, and treating them respectfully, is not this movie's strong suit; there's even one particularly egregious scene in which the band rocks so hard that the sheer force of their music gets a complaining girlfriend to shut up.

Yes, it's unapologetically sleazy. But considering the band's reputation, any Mötley Crüe biopic that went the Freddie Mercury route – of telling the story as if its subject had led a PG-13 life of sweetness and near-chastity – would be instantly laughed off the screen by anyone even remotely familiar with this group.

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Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee married actress Heather Locklear and punched through a plate glass window upon Locklear demanding a divorce after discovering his tryst with a porn star. | Image: YouTube screenshot

The film stars Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx, rapper Machine Gun Kelly (credited by his real name Colson Baker) as Tommy Lee, Iwan Rheon (Ramsey Bolton from Game of Thrones) as guitarist Mick Mars and Daniel Webber as singer Vince Neil. That three of the four men (all but Neil) have just about the same haircut and look very much alike, is a problem the movie never quite solves.  

All four core members of Mötley Crüe are still alive – though Nikki Sixx, as shown in the film, was once declared clinically dead for several minutes in 1987 — and all four are listed as executive producers.

That means this story is going to be told in a manner that's self-serving to some degree, although at least we don't have a situation like “Straight Outta Compton” – in which some members of the group had a hand in the movie while others didn't – or like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in which the living band members and producers took the opportunity to settle various scores with Mercury, their late bandmate.

That's not to say “The Dirt" doesn't make other mistakes. The rock biopic cliche is strong with this one. There's everything from the rising up from the ashes tale of Sixx to the character motivated by the rejection of his father – in again Nikki Sixx – to a redemption arc that doesn't quite feel earned.

There's nothing particularly novel or risk-taking about the filmmaking. I've been told by ‘80s rock experts that the guitar models aren't accurate, and even worse, neither are the copious bottles of Jack Daniel’s throughout. The film also doesn't quite land the right tone in the third act, especially when it juxtaposes the band's brief John Corabi era with the death of Vince Neil's young daughter.

Despite all that, “The Dirt” is a film that's true to what Mötley Crüe was and doesn't really have an agenda of any kind beyond that. No, it's not going to win four Oscars. But what’s refreshing is that it's not utterly false, either.

TWITTER: @STEPHENSILVER

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