Sound: If there's one thing that becomes immediately evident in the documentary film Lemmy: 49% Motherf--ker, 51% Son of a Bitch, it's that the iconic Motorhead frontman is more of an enigma that you can ever fathom. Filmmakers Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski spent four years capturing the most detailed image possible of Lemmy Kilmister, a man who although does in many ways still convey the essence of a metal badass, is just as much an average Joe like the rest of us. Lemmy premiered at SXSW in 2010 and is now available as two-DVD release over three hours of bonus footage. So if you've ever wanted to know more about the man behind Ace of Spades, little will be left to the imagination after checking the documentary out.
Olliver and Orshoski kick everything off with a bevy of Motorhead fans proclaiming Lemmy's legend. I don't think it was put better than when one avid fan declared that the only thing left on earth after a nuclear explosion will be cockroaches and Lemmy. At the age of 65, Lemmy does seem to be the veritable Energizer Bunny, unscathed by years of living to excess. Both the frontman and various musicians detail just how hard that Lemmy has lived (the Reverend Horton Heat aka Jim Heath even claimed Kilmister gave him alcohol poisoning), but there are just as many stories as to the fairly trite and benign activities that make up the day to day life of Lemmy.
There are plenty of musical moments along the way as one might expect, with a good chunk of footage devoted to Lemmy jamming with Metallica. If you're not fond of Hetfield and the gang, this might be slightly annoying, but it goes to show that even Metallica (particularly Lars) worship Lemmy. The gruff, imperfect nature of Lemmy's performance isn't sugarcoated, and the filmmakers at one point go into the studio where the singer/bassist is asked to do several vocal takes until he gets it right. And if you ever wondered where Lemmy garners his inspiration, the film reiterates time and again who the singer believes is the best rock vocalist of all time: Little Richard. // 9
Content: The fact that there is over three hours of bonus footage alone makes Lemmy: 49% Motherf--ker, 51% Son of a Bitch an absolutely worthwhile viewing choice. The first disk includes the 117-minute documentary film, while the second DVD features such extras as The Sweet Side of Lemmy (Alice In Chains Mike Inez calls Lemmy a softy), a behind-the-scenes look at the ups and downs of following Lemmy around for four years, a lengthy conversation between Lemmy and Dave Grohl, the making of the album Motrizer, and much, much, much more. The documentary itself is jam-packed with content, and you'll probably never get the image out of your mind of Lemmy's massive WWII collection not to mention his humble living quarters. // 10
Production Quality: The documentary's driving force is the storytelling involved, and there is certainly a straightforward approach that never gets too artsy. The most impressive aspect of the quality is knowing that Olliver and Orshoski must have spent hours and hours sifting through everything. From Lemmy making chips to talking about his son, it's all enthralling. Lemmy: 49% Motherf--ker, 51% Son of a Bitch also has star quality for better or worse and Metallica, Slash, Dave Navarro, and a bevy of other celebs show up along the way. // 10
Overall Impression: Whether or not you're already fascinated with Lemmy Kilmister, there's a strong chance you'll find the Motorhead frontman to have a captivating story after viewing this documentary. If he just lived one crazy adventure after another, it might be considered trite. But this is a case where Lemmy is more like you and me than you might expect. In many ways there is an underlying sadness to Lemmy (choosing rock and roll over true love is one of the topics discussed), but in the same token you come away from the film knowing that Lemmy Kilmister will still probably outlast all of us. // 9