Nearly 30 years after its debut album "Appetite for Destruction," L.A. rock group Guns N' Roses is top of mind after a much-touted reunion tour has taken it from its old stamping grounds at the Troubadour to the Coachella main stage. The band is due to hit Dodger Stadium this summer, perfect timing for the release of "It's So Easy and Other Lies," a documentary about Guns bassist Duff McKagan, directed by Christopher Duddy, adapted from McKagan's memoir of the same name.
There are a lot of creative choices made in this rock documentary, and not all of them work. The framing device is a concert/reading by McKagan at the Moore Theater in his hometown of Seattle, the film bolstered with talking heads interviews, short animated reenactments and many experiments with cinematic form. The busy style doesn't cover up the disjointed storytelling, which is at once a straightforward retelling of his adventures in the group and a subjective expression of his darkest moments, including a bout of pancreatitis caused by alcohol abuse that knocked McKagan back on the straight and narrow path.
He's led a remarkable life as a seminal member of Seattle's punk scene as well as L.A.'s hair metal landscape, but the film dwells more on his domestic achievements — sobriety, family, education. While McKagan's pride in his Norman Rockwellian existence is palpable, "It's So Easy" suffers from an approach that leans more on telling than showing, and we just have to take his word for it that his life's events are that fascinating. "It's So Easy" is for die-hard GNR completists but probably won't appeal outside of the fandom.
'It's So Easy and Other Lies'
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes