Parents' Guide to

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Raw docu shows band at a low point; frequent cursing.

Movie PG-13 2004 141 minutes
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Before celebrities spilled their guts on Twitter, this 2004 Metallica documentary lifted the heavy metal veil to reveal a band who was at their lowest point. Bass player Jason Neusted had just quit, lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield went into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction for a year, and drummer Lars Ulrich alienated fans everywhere by taking on Napster. During this time, they worked with a life coach, aka, a "Performance Enhancement Coach" who, for all the good work he seems to be doing for their interpersonal relationships, seems to be also insinuating himself into the band and the band's creative process. The members of the band appear emotionally vulnerable and often act like total jerks to each other and those around them, which makes the fact that this even got released at all with the band's full permission even braver.

If, in terms of what it's like to play in a rock and roll band, This is Spinal Tap is the comedy to The Last Waltz's tragedy, Some Kind of Monster unintentionally has a lot of Column A, and its fair share of Column B. The idea of a life coach counseling a heavy metal band -- a genre replete with alpha-geek themes of war and destruction set to violent thrash music -- inherently sounds like something from sketch comedy. And Dave Mustaine, kicked out of Metallica early in their career due to drinking way too much, bearing his soul to Lars Ulrich about how much it hurts to be in only the #2 best-selling metal band, Megadeth, instead of being #1 like Ulrich is, shows just how strange their realities and priorities can be. And yet, Mustaine's regrets over not getting help while still in Metallica ring much more universal to families whose members have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and Hetfield's profound insights on his own journey to recovery should also resonate with teens who have seen addiction firsthand. And the arguments, the pettiness, the manipulation, the passive-aggressiveness, the massive challenge it can be for bands who have been together for many years to maintain friendships and working relationships does prove universal for anyone, musician or not, faced with the work and challenges of maintaining a long-term relationship. It's that kind of bravery in the "warts and all" approach to this documentary that makes it worth watching, whether you're a Metallica fan or not.

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