DVD Review: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne
by Warren Curry
It’s interesting to consider how Ozzy Osbourne has changed (and how public perception of him has changed) over the past four decades. Once the vocalist for one of the most important bands in the annals of heavy rock music who embarked on a shockingly successful — and controversial — solo career before having an image makeover as the star of a popular reality television series, Osbourne’s life has indeed been a memorable one. He is certainly a subject worthy of a feature length documentary film.
Directors Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli dig far deeper than any Behind the Music rockumentary would go and tell a very complete tale of a celebrity artist whose devil-may-care public image masked a personal life that constantly devolved into chaos. Some of Ozzy’s craziest antics, presented here with blow-by-blow descriptions, made him public enemy #1 for many a 1980’s suburban parent, but his battles with the demons that fueled his outrageous actions created collateral damage in the form of his family.
Speaking of his family, Ozzy’s son Jack is the producer of this documentary, while his wife/manager Sharon wears the executive producer hat. The upside to the family involvement is that this film feels like an all access pass to the life and thoughts of Osbourne, but one can’t help but wonder just how much freedom the directors’ had to tell the man’s story. Not that the film feels sugar coated — this is certainly a warts and all depiction — but would this tale of redemption have a darker/critical tone without family involvement?
It’s a fair question, but one that’s only tangentially pertinent to assessing what this film is. If Osbourne had never picked up a microphone after Black Sabbath sacked him, the man still would have left an enormous musical legacy (and his excesses would also likely have led to his death many years ago). Sabbath is, of course, the band widely credited with pioneering the heavy metal music genre and it seemed that Osbourne’s career was over when the band fired him in the late 1970s.
Rejuvenated with the help of his manager and future wife, Sharon, Ozzy’s career was resurrected when he met a young, extraordinary guitar player named Randy Rhoads. Establishing a solo career, Ozzy released two very well received albums, “Blizzard of Oz” and “Diary of a Madman,” prior to Rhoads’ tragic, untimely death in a freak plane crash that happened almost literally before Ozzy’s eyes. Ozzy’s career seemingly again extinguished, he soldiered on and still found enormous success, especially in the ’80s, the era when heavy metal enjoyed its most mainstream appeal.
Most of the people integral to the story are interviewed — ex-bandmates, family members — and it’s Sharon and children Aimee, Jack and Kelly who provide the most candid observations about a life spent with both the man and his myth. Jack, himself, fell prey to the same addictions as his father, and I hardly consider it a spoiler to reveal that they’re both now happily sober. Given all he’s been through, and the abundance of self-inflicted damage — perhaps the most surprising twist is this tale actually has a happy ending.
Whittled down to an economic 90 minutes, “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” is both an up close and personal look and a fitting tribute to a complex person who’s walked in unique shoes.
The film is presented in widescreen 16:9 format, and the directors make good use of archival clips. Audio is presented in both Dolby and DTS Surround as well as good old Dolby Stereo. Eagle Rock always offers a number of different subtitles, and this is no exception as, by my count, seven languages are represented here. A host of deleted scenes are included along with an interview with Jack and Ozzy and also footage from the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. This accounts for about 45 minutes of bonus features.
I’d recommend that hardcore Ozzy fans rush out and buy a copy of this DVD, but given that this review’s a few weeks late, I get the feeling they’ve already done so.
GOD BLESS OZZY OSBOURNE (2011)
Directors: Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli
Not Rated, 135 minutes (all content)
(Available on DVD November 15, 2011 from Eagle Rock Entertainment)
16:9 Screen Format
English DTS Digital Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese
- Extended Interviews