Entertaining? Yes. Comprehensive? Hardly!
There’s not a lot about Ozzy Osbourne that hasn’t been uncovered. After all, the exploits from the man known as the ‘Prince of Darkness’ over his 45 year career has since become the stuff of rock and roll legend, and as a consequence has been told and retold throughout the years. In 2009, Osbourne decided that the time was right to set the record straight on his life story, and along with co-writer Chris Ayres, penned his highly acclaimed autobiography I Am Ozzy the same year.
Given that the book was a fairly comprehensive take on Osbourne’s life and career as a member of Black Sabbath and as a solo artist, you have to question whether there was anything left to uncover in terms of Osbourne’s life or career?
Well, according to his son Jack (Osbourne) and creative partner Mike Fleiss, and producer Sharon Osbourne (Ozzy’s wife and manager), there’s a whole different side to Ozzy Osbourne that very few people have actually seen or read, which has prompted the making of the definitive Ozzy Osbourne film God Bless Ozzy Osbourne.
Filmed over a two year period, directors Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli filmed Ozzy Osbourne both on the road and at home in an attempt to capture the true essence of who Osbourne is, and what makes the great man tick. God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is the result of those two years.
Over the course of 94 minutes, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne presents an unflinching account of Osbourne's life as a rock star, as a family man and as a human being who has overcome drug and alcohol addiction and own self-doubt – from those closest to him (namely family, friends and associates – both past and present).
Starting with the surprise 60th birthday celebration held for Osbourne, the story then goes all the way back to the start, where Osbourne and his sisters detail the Osbourne’s lower class upbringing in Aston (Birmingham, U.K.). It’s definitely an interesting trip into the past, and one of the better parts of the film – mainly due to the honesty from all those interviewed (especially from Osbourne himself).
From here, the film moves into the Black Sabbath years, and while it’s all well presented, there’s little on offer here that hasn’t already been told countless times before. Having said that, the archival footage of Black Sabbath (both live and interview-wise) is a real bonus, and bassist Geezer Butler’s humorous take on Osbourne’s varying states of sobriety are truly funny.
Another great bit of footage is the interviews with Osbourne’s various children and ex-wife Thelma. It’s here that you really get an honest perspective of how absent Osbourne was for most of their life, and just how much it affected both them and Osbourne on a personal level.
Sharon has rarely come across in a good light since the T.V. show The Osbournes, but in this film, she manages to really show a side that few get to see. Her take on her marriage to Ozzy, his deep depression after splitting with Black Sabbath and the short time with guitar protégée Randy Rhodes really allows her to tell her side of the story in a way that’s both honest and touching, and another one of the film’s really strong moments.
Unfortunately, the film does have its drawbacks. The ‘80’s is brushed over for the most part, with Osbourne himself unwilling to watch promotional video clips of himself, and admitting that most of the decade is nothing more than a blur at best. Of course, the infamous bat story is recounted once again, and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee provides plenty of laughter with some wild tales of Osbourne out-grossing the band while out on tour, and Ozzy’s return to his early childhood haunts is another great part of the film.
But unfortunately, the tail end of the film does appear to be a little rushed. Most of the ‘90’s is skimmed through, with guitarist Zakk Wylde barely getting a mention and that’s a real shame given the pair have spent the better part of the last twenty years making music together.
Overall, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is good, but it could have been presented a little more comprehensively. There are so many gaps in this story, and the story does seem a little one-sided at times (where’s the perspective from former band members Jake E. Lee, Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley?). But given that it’s near impossible to present the complete history of Ozzy Osbourne in one entire film, what they have presented is well done.
In terms of extras, there a 19 and a half minute Q & A With Ozzy and Jack (which is really well done, informative and very honest) and 14 and a half minutes of various deleted scenes (many of which could have well been included in the film itself in my opinion – especially Osbourne’s fight with director Fleiss).
In a lot of ways, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is a companion piece to Osbourne’s I Am Ozzy. Does the pair completely tell the full story of Osbourne’s life? Well, sort of. This film is still guilty of portraying Osbourne the person, rather than Osbourne the musician. And as long as you’re aware of that fact, this is the kind of film that will either totally satisfy, or frustrate to no end. Call me a fan of Osbourne the performer, but I fall into the latter crowd, and therefore am more than a little disappointed with the biographical celluloid effort.
(Jacko Productions, Inc./Eagle Rock Entertainment Ltd./Eagle Vision/Shock Entertainment)