‘God Bless Ozzy Osbourne’ – Movie Review
'God Bless Ozzy Osbourne' is a thought-provoking documentary about the life and personal struggles of Black Sabbath founder and solo star Ozzy Osbourne. The singer's son Jack co-produced the film with the goal of liberating his father from the twin caricatures of drunken wildman and addled old man that have dominated much of the public's perception of Ozzy, and overall he succeeds quite nicely.
The film starts by following Ozzy across the world on tour in the relative present (Zakk Wylde's presence and the logos backstage indicate this was during the tour for 2007's 'Black Rain' album), showing the repetitive, mundane warm-up activities the singer must endure each night in order to perform up to his own highly self-critical standards.
We're soon taken back in time to Ozzy's poor but seemingly happy childhood, and then quickly into his early days with Black Sabbath. As their fame grows, so do Ozzy's appetites for drinking and drugs, causing him to get divorced from his first wife and ultimately lose his job in Black Sabbath. (One of the more depressing scenes shows a clearly burnt-out Sabbath performing amidst a sea of disco fans on 'Top of the Pops' in support of their last album.)
As we all know, he then finds hope and unexpected solo fame in the form of a new musical partnership with guitarist Randy Rhoads, and winds up marrying his manager, Sharon Arden. Despite her best efforts, Ozzy's substance abuse doesn't stop, in fact, it escalates when Rhoads is killed in a tragic airplane stunt a couple of years later.
It is at this point that Jack, Kelly and the rest of Ozzy's five kids start to describe in great detail exactly how emotionally unavailable their father was as they grew up. The stories of debauchery that helped fuel Osbourne's legend don't seem so funny from their perspective as impressionable children.
It is revealed that much of the confused, staggering behavior witnessed on the popular 2002-05 reality series 'The Osbournes' was a result of Ozzy's alcohol and pill intake, and not misdiagnosed medical problems as originally reported. The children soon find their own way into various addictions as well.
Things apparently came to a dramatic head a few years later, soon after Jack cleaned himself up and made a dramatic assessment of his father's life. We won't tell you what he said, but the gravity found in Ozzy's voice during his recollection of the event -- "It hit me right between the eyes, like a shot' -- makes it clear that the message finally sank in.
At the time of the filming, Ozzy had been sober five years, and his children beam with pride at the new father they've discovered. He's much more responsible and present in daily life (finally earning a much-coveted driver's license), and has found a new hobby of oil painting that seems to bring him peace in times of stress.
He's still funny as a barrel of monkeys, too; impatiently watching videos from some of the more creatively barren eras of his solo career with clear disdain. He's like a one-man, foul mouthed version of 'Muppet Show' critics Statler and Waldorf, finally storming out of the room, refusing to watch anymore.
Obviously, the very unique life Osbourne traveled makes for a natural tale of loss and redemption, but it's the detail and insight of small moments -- Sharon comforting Ozzy as he deals with jet lag, the couple visiting his modest childhood home -- that make this movie particularly worth seeing.
A special post-movie interview session with Jack and Ozzy was both touching and funny, with Jack expressing surprise at the credit he got for his father's turnaround, and the two laughing at the time Jack shot Kelly (with an air rifle) on the day the parents unwisely chose Wylde as a babysitter.
If you missed last night's (Aug. 24) screening of this extremely compelling movie, don't fret, you've still got another chance. Fathom Events is hosting encore performances of 'God Bless Ozzy Osbourne' in theaters all across the country on Monday, Aug. 29. You can visit their official website to find locations showing the film in your hometown.