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Movie review: 'Lemmy'

January 20, 2011|By Mark Olsen

"It's a great job, I recommend it." So says Lemmy Kilmister on his life as a rock 'n' roller in the film "Lemmy," a documentary portrait of the Motörhead frontman and living symbol of hard rock swagger.

It says much of Kilmister's enduring appeal that the slew of celebrity testimonials, including Dave Grohl, Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bob Thornton and Joan Jett, come from such a wide swath of the musical spectrum. Co-directors Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski cycle through an array of topics with little organization — they feature Kilmister's custom boot maker early on but save talking about the specifics of his bass sound until fairly late — creating no overall flow or structure. (Not to mention that the endless shots of Kilmister walking down corridors in one anonymous venue after another begin to take on a distinctly "Spinal Tap" feel after a while.)

A brief section detailing his time pre-Motörhead in the influential space-rock band Hawkwind, from which former bandmates all seem to still harbor specific grudges, makes the merry reminiscences of much of the rest of the film seem all the more flat. Though there are a few moments that feel insightful in getting underneath Kilmister's implacable persona, the filmmakers leave something wanting when it comes to understanding what drives him and his obsessions with slot machines or military paraphernalia.

Fun for fans and a healthy primer for those previously unaware, the film's overall air of fawning worship makes it feel softer than befits such a gruff, roguish figure.

"Lemmy." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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