Movie review: 'Lemmy: 49% Mother***er, 51% Son of a Bitch'

Metallica (music group)John LennonAlice CooperChuck NorrisOzzy OsbourneJoan Jett

***1/2 (out of four)

Motorhead singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister is the kind of genre-personifying hard rock icon who invites Chuck Norris-style hyperbole (one fan claims the only survivors of a nuclear bomb would be cockroaches and Lemmy) that actually believe to be true. That’s because there are so many spectacular real-life stories about the veteran rocker, recalled in this documentary by Lemmy himself, as well as rock icons Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Dave Grohl, all of Metallica and many more.

The buzz: This is the feature debut for directors Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski, who gain full access to Lemmy from the inside of his house to his former bandmates in The Rockin’ Vickers and Hawkwind to his son (whose mom lost her virginity to John Lennon but named her boy Paul anyway). That may be why the movie, which is released in a two-disc DVD on Feb. 15 (http://store.lemmymovie.com/), has already won over numerous crowds and critics at festivals around the world.

The verdict: Simultaneously deconstructing and reinforcing a myth, “Lemmy” presents Lemmy as a man both born to rock and unchanged by stardom. Priceless anecdotes pile up around this guy like bras at an ‘80s metal show and reveal a humble man with a super-human tolerance and a rock ‘n roll resume that’s hard to top. (Being a roadie for Hendrix is a good way to gain credibility with pretty much anybody.) The influence of both his music and his attitude are undeniable, even if the affectionately badass doc skimps a little bit on his youth and details about the other members of Motorhead. This is rock school for the already-informed and the ill-informed—a two-hour flurry of legendary living that also reinforces why “fast and loud” doesn’t mean dumb, just heavy.

Did you know? Other great things said about Lemmy: Scott Ian of Anthrax recalls seeing him in short-shorts, which Lemmy wears without shame; Lars Ulrich of Metallica insists “Lemmy” should be a verb; and Billy Bob Thornton says Lemmy’s image is a combination of biker, musician and a guy that works at the car wash.

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Metallica (music group)John LennonAlice CooperChuck NorrisOzzy OsbourneJoan Jett
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