God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, the latest of the music industry’s limited theatrical event releases, provides a uniquely intimate portrait of the prince of darkness that had arguably never been seen. Between Ozzy’s perceived demonic and evil stage persona and the bumbling house-dad he was portrayed to be on MTVs The Osbournes, this film shows Ozzy, the real person, for the first time according to producer Jack Osbourne (Ozzy’s son). The film was screened during a 2 night limited theatrical event earlier this week (and last), and will certainly soon be available on DVD.
This film tells the story of Ozzy’s life, focusing mostly on his upbringing in Birmingham, England, the formation of Black Sabbath (all 4 original members are featured in new interviews), the joys of success and the pains of failure, addiction and substance abuse, and Ozzy’s phoenix-like return as a solo artist in the early to mid 1980s. While the legend of Ozzy Osbourne would undoubtedly not exist without the stories contained in the movie (including Ozzy’s close relationship with the late guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads), true fans are already familiar with many of the things Ozzy, his family and his band mates have to say in this movie, and some of those stories are even mentioned two or three times during the film, which leads to a slight feeling of redundancy, balanced out slightly by the inclusion of never-before-seen concert footage, specifically of Black Sabbath rocking an outdoor festival during the daytime in the mid-70s.
Not only have many of these stories been told (and re-told) on Behind the Music and Classic Albums, but frustratingly, the movie makes little to no mention of any of Ozzy’s music beyond “No More Tears”, and completely ignores Ozzfest, the first ever traveling metal festival, which hit its peak around 2000 and has since been retired. While old school Ozzy fans will see and hear plenty to bring them in and keep them interested, those who discovered Ozzy’s music later on (he did have a number of successful singles in the 90s), might feel this film doesn’t tell the whole story.
The overall point of the movie is to show that Ozzy is just another human being like us all. He came from a poor background, made something of himself without much of an education, had many ups, many downs, successes with family and failures. In the most intimate scene, Ozzy carefully closes his dressing room door after looking to see no one else is around, drops to his knees and prays before heading out to rock another rowdy crowd. Fans who journeyed to the theater to see the film (and there certainly weren’t many on Monday evening in Grand Rapids), were also treated to a 15 minute interview about the film with Ozzy and Jack Osbourne after the credits rolled. While this was a fun bonus, even in this segment, the same stories were re-told. When the goal of a 90-minute documentary is to tell the story of someone’s life, and 30 or so years of it seem to be either left out or glossed over, one could argue there is more to the story than was included. Whether this means the movie is a success or not is up to the viewer and is probably based on how big of an Ozzy fan they are already. Those who don’t know much or anything at all about Ozzy will get more out of this than those who have followed him for decades like many of us have.