Saw the Lemmy doc, LEMMY: 49% Motherfu**er, 51% Son of a Bitch, last night. I heard it was good. Not entirely sure what I thought.
Here’s what I learned. Lemmy is rock and roll. Everybody says so. The thing is, watching the film, Lemmy seems like he’s kind of dead. If not dead, he certainly seems like a very, very tired man. Everybody interviewed in the film, from Metallica to Joan Jett to Alice Cooper to Peter Hook, talks about Lemmy with more oomph and energy than Lemmy brings to the proceedings. It’s one of those weird docs where your main character is a suck hole of energy and the film lags a bit for it.
As for a doc, there are a lot of potentially great story arcs and the film just doesn’t go there. Is Lemmy a genius who never quite got his commercial due? If Lemmy is such a superstar why does he live in a Sunset Strip apartment that should be featured on an episode of Hoarders? Is it cool to sacrifice your family and personal relationships in search of the rock and roll dream?
Lemmy has stuck to his rock and roll guns and, by all accounts, is successful and worshipped. And while everyone seems to say how awesome that is, it just doesn’t seem that awesome. Lemmy grunts and claims triumph, but he just seems so damn tired and emotionless, it’s hard to feel like he's really won. Everyone seems to bask in his presence, enthused by the presence and concept of Lemmy. But the pictures paint a slightly different story, leaving the viewer in a little bit of a nether world about what to think. Lemmy has no regrets, and I believe it, but the movie just doesn’t make me feel it.
And the movie doesn’t even dig that deep into the music. The section on Hawkwind is pretty awesome, but then the film barely talks about the transition to Motörhead. How did Lemmy get from space rock to buzz saw metal? That’s not even broached. Motörhead has been around for over 30 years. The arc of the career, the ups and downs, the rock and roll hills and valleys are never much seen or explored in the film. Very little archival material comes to the fore. The movie is vaguely reminiscent of the Patti Smith doc from a few years back. Lemmy 49% MF is more of a glimpse into the world of the artist today, but not much about how the legend came to be.
It’s not bad, but it’s not as hard hitting as the Anvil movie, the Metallica movie or the Brian Jonestown movie, all films, which really dive deep into the trials and tribulations of the protagonists. Lemmy is truly one of a kind. He is a rock and roll hero. No doubt that he is 49% motherfu**er and 51% son of a bitch. It’s just that a film about a total rock and roll mothefu**er should be an amped up, celebratory wild ride, and this movie is just not that.