In a society of like-minded people, who foamed at the mouth when VH1’s Behind the Music pulled back the curtain on heralded rock star debauchery of yesteryear, fans of these respective bands believed they were given the whole story. To a certain extent, they were. But after watching God Bless Ozzy Osbourne … Behind the Music can eat their heart out. Or better yet — and more appropriately — bite their head off.
Produced by Ozzy’s son Jack Osbourne, the 90 minute-plus documentary doesn’t just peel back the curtain … it drops it. Though it retreads over stories fans clearly know about and for whatever reason decides to skip over a decade (1990s), the doc will illuminate things the laymen, and the die-hard loyal, never knew. And this isn’t a shock-and-awe campaign. This project has a substantial point.
Viewers will see Ozzy talking to the camera (not the incoherent rambling from The Osbournes reality show) from a variety of different places. He reflects over photographs, past music videos and stories from over the years about his self-inflicted diabolical lifestyle. He revisits (literally) the small blue-collar town where he grew up just outside of Birmingham, England; he allows the camera to view his backstage routine before and after a gig; and the footage goes as far as to show the nights in hotel rooms and what happens when he’s just chilling around his L.A. digs. There are no restrictions and no protecting of Ozzy Osbourne here. His flaws are focused upon just as much as his successes.
Of course there is rare footage of past Black Sabbath performances, current tours and a heartfelt segment about the Randy Rhoads era. The random video tapes of Ozzy in the ’80s showcases just how much of a train wreck the guy was. A handful of notable musicians chime in on Ozzy; all sharing their thoughts on the Prince of Darkness’ tumultuous career from up-close and afar experiences they had with him. Fans may be surprised how involved the members of Black Sabbath were as they give candid testimonials about their meteoric rise in the ’70s to when they quickly booted Ozzy out of the band. And the tight shots on all their faces show some thought was put into the cinematography.
The storytelling stays mostly in the ’70s and ’80s but does end up jumping to 2003, where some say Ozzy was at his worst. At this point, the family members (the ones we know and the ones we don’t) give the story that the reality show could not (yeah, it was that bad).
Despite hearing from others who have been close and/or professionally involved with Ozzy over the last twenty-plus years, the man himself is doing most of the talking here. And he’s not all over the place as one might think. And he doesn’t always wear black garbs all day either. Now sober, Ozzy is as focused as one could be all things considered (extensive drug & alcohol abuse, dyslexia, etc.). It may have taken the 62 year-old rocker nearly six decades to get his act together, but it’s nice to see that he did (for the moment); and by the time this documentary winds down, the true purpose of why this came to fruition is revealed. Who would have thought one could learn something from Ozzy Osbourne aside from how to work in the F-bomb into every sentence. (Which he rarely does here.)
The only slight knock on this is the flow to the presentation. Although Ozzy is always engrossing to hear and the footage complied has the same effect, there’s at times a lack of uniformity within the production value. Segments can appear out of nowhere, but that kind of symbolizes the once erratic behavior of the titular guy.
Overall, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is riveting, engaging and entertains just as much as it can educate. It can also be subtly provocative since you may ponder how such a sinful soul could still reap so many accolades. Makes you think that the saying, “you can’t argue with talent” is very true. Either way, as a fan of both the subject matter and documentary film, this product born from the ashes of a madman is worthy of a look.
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is currently playing at select theatres in the Tampa Bay market. DVD will be released in November.