"God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" Movie Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Tue, 23 Aug 2011 08:21:30
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne isn't simply about Ozzy Osbourne.
It's really about dreams coming true against all odds. The film's brilliance comes from the fact that simple truths are relayed via the harsh reality of Ozzy's immortally insane ride thus far. That's why the movie pummels with a poetic poignancy.
Produced by the person closest to Ozzy, his son Jack, and directed by Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne doesn't pull any punches, but it's simultaneously extremely heartfelt. The documentary teeters between extremes. There's the greatest rock star of all time on stage in front of a packed stadium, but then there's a broken man whose insecurities and addictions almost undid him numerous times. He may have changed the face of music forever, but he's still a man. If anything, Ozzy's humanity bleeds through in Technicolor, and audiences will love him even more because of it.
The film begins with Ozzy performing for a rabid South American crowd. The camera follows his journey from the dressing room to the stage with an intense intimacy. The filmmakers allow viewers to see the world through Ozzy's eyes, and that's one of the most remarkable elements of the movie. Focus shifts to fans throughout the years before zeroing in on Ozzy's 60th birthday celebration in Las Vegas. Surprised by friends and family, Ozzy smiles, "You fucking assholes!" A cake bares a photo of him as a child and the narrative plunges into his upbringing in Aston, Birmingham.
Desolate and depleted, the working class industrial town was the only place in the world that could've produced Black Sabbath. "A lot of kids turned to crime, but I wasn't very good at it," reveals Ozzy in a candid interview, interspersed between the footage of bombed out Birmingham buildings.
Instead, he found music after hearing The Beatles' "She Loves You". Black Sabbath was soon born. God Bless Ozzy Osbourne weaves in candid interviews with his Sabbath band mates, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward detailing the genesis of the band and heavy metal. Certainly, their impact can be felt potently when none other than Sir Paul McCartney exclaims that darkness "hadn't been dealt with until Black Sabbath started dealing with it".
McCartney's interview proves a circular point in the tightly constructed structure of the film. Ozzy started playing music because of The Beatles, and now McCartney is singing his praises. That's only one of many masterful techniques employed to tell this tale.
While Black Sabbath's rise is detailed with classic footage and interviews, Ozzy's sharp sense of humor colors the vignettes in between. As he's signing autographs on his tour bus, he jests, "When I do croak, they'll give my signature free with fucking tampons or something". It's a moment of levity perfectly inserted before the true madness begins.
Seeing Sabbath play in California in the '70s proves utterly powerful, especially before a modern interview where Ozzy discusses the crosses his father made for the band and his regret over his passing. Ward, Butler, and Iommi detail Ozzy's descent into drugs and ultimately the tear-filled split between them. However, as always, the singer's resiliency is inspiring, bouncing back with Sharon Osbourne behind him and guitarist Randy Rhoads at his side for Blizzard of Ozz.
Drugs continue to plague him, as Ozzy openly discusses his craziest exploits. Rhoads' death in a plane crash remains especially heartbreaking not only for the singer but for the audience. Bassist Rudy Sarzo recalls hearing the news and running to a local church to pray. When he looks up inside the church, Ozzy's there too praying. Teary eyed, Sarzo's interview is one of the most impactful.
Then there's the family dynamic. With undeniable elegance, intelligence, and poise, Sharon relays the story of the night Ozzy attempted to kill her. Her voice delivers the story and one final word "Fabulous". God Bless Ozzy Osbourne boasts an emotional heft that few modern dramas can muster, and that's why it's so moving.
The movie never loses its comedic side, matching the singer's dynamic personality. Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee tells one outrageous anecdote of Ozzy defecating in a hotel room. Lee adds, "I'm cool with taking a shit in the toilet".
Nevertheless, Ozzy's story teaches a lot, and it does so without ever hiding anything. This is one of the most honest and fascinating documentaries ever made. Ozzy set a new standard for music, and God Bless Ozzy Osbourne does the same for film.
Will you be seeing God Bless Ozzy Osbourne?