It’s So Easy and Other Lies is less a documentary than an attempt to bring to life on film Duff McKagan’s memoir of the same name.

McKagan is best known as the bass player for Guns N’ Roses, a band that conquered the music world in 1987 with their debut album Appetite for Destruction. They were a young, hungry band whose immense musical talent was surpassed only by its decadence and depravity.

If you’re a fan of Guns N’ Roses and you know their history, you’ll notice the formation of the band is sort of glossed over in this movie. To hear McKagan tell it, he answered an ad 3 starsSlash placed, then they met the other members and within a few minutes they were touring around the world with a #1 album. They come back to L.A. after a year and a half of touring, and he says they are surprised to discover that their look and sound is everywhere. It’s a unique glimpse of a level of super fame that shows those on the inside may not even be aware of its extent as it’s happening.

Of course, there is the roller coaster relationship with alcohol and drugs. From a low of close to a gallon of vodka per day with Guns N’ Roses, to the health crisis that leads to sobriety, and the inevitable relapse with Velvet Revolver, we are led through the predictable journey that every rock star seems to take. Throughout it all, though, you somehow get the sense that Duff is a good guy, and maybe even was a good guy when he was in the depths of his addiction.

The documentary briefly touches on how he enrolled at the University of Seattle to study business in his 30s. It’s unfortunate more time isn’t spent on this, because his business success is one of the interesting aspects of his story. His first accounting professor says she had no idea who he was at first, though he was an excellent student.

The way the movie is presented is a bit unconventional. McKagan’s voiceover narration at first seems grand and affected – the sort of dramatic delivery you might expect at a one-man show. We’re about 10 minutes in before we are shown that’s pretty much exactly what this audio is from. The interviews and historical footage are interspersed with scenes of McKagan onstage with a full band. He’s wearing a dark suit and tie, sitting on a stool, reading excerpts from his book while the band plays faintly recognizable almost muzak-like versions of Guns N’ Roses songs behind him. It’s more like an intimate jazz show than a rock concert and about as far as you can get from his arena rock days.

It’s So Easy and Other Lies doesn’t dig very deep. It isn’t a Behind the Music episode, and while Slash and Matt Sorum are interviewed throughout, Axl Rose is nowhere in sight. If you already like Duff McKagan and his bands (and I do), it’s an enjoyable enough watch. But if you aren’t already familiar with him and his music, there’s not much new here to draw you in.

 

Title It’s So Easy and Other Lies
Director Christopher Duddy
Writer Christopher Duddy, Duff McKagan
Runtime 84 min
Starring Duff McKagan, Slash, Matt Sorum
Production Pop Art Film Factory, Scatena & Rosner Films, XLrator Media

 

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