out of Five
Running time: 117
Enjoyable documentary that should appeal to metalheads and non-metalheads alike, with Lemmy proving an engaging and likeable subject, though the film-makers never really scratch beneath the surface and the film is slightly too long as a result.
What's it all about?
Directed by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski, Lemmy was filmed over a period of three years in the company of Motorhead frontman and all-around Rock God Lemmy Kilmister, who we first meet frying chips and playing videogames. The film-makers follow Lemmy on various engagements, though the majority of his time is spent hanging out at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on the Sunset Strip (where he apparently hogs the trivia machine on a nightly basis), rattling around his weirdly poky-looking flat or checking out his frankly astonishing collection of Nazi memorabilia (“Everybody collects something, right?”), the highlight of which is his Wall of Knives.
The cameras are also there as Lemmy spends time with his adult son Paul (whom Lemmy didn't meet until Paul was six) and there are gushing talking head interviews from a veritable Who's Who of Rock that includes Dave Grohl, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Jarvis Cocker and Alice Cooper. There's also a great sequence where Lemmy and Billy Bob Thornton have a noisy pub conversation about royalty cheques.
Lemmy makes an engaging and likeable subject and his self-effacing, matter-of-fact sense of humour is much in evidence, most notably when a radio DJ asks if it's true he's slept with over 2000 women and he points out that a) he only said 1000 and b) if you bear in mind he's 65, it's actually not all that many over the years. The talking heads produce some terrific Lemmy stories too, such as his reasons for wearing a pair of ridiculously short denim hotpants.
The main problem is that it's clear that Lemmy will only let the film-makers in so far and no further, though it's equally true that they are obviously too in awe of their subject to really scratch beneath the surface; the closest we get is Paul's stunned reaction to Lemmy saying something nice about him on camera, but this isn't explored. As a result, the film wears out its welcome around the 90 minute mark, as you realise you won't be learning anything new.
Lemmy is an enjoyable and frequently funny documentary though it ignores several opportunities to dig deeper into its subject and is at least 20 minutes too long.