God Bless Ozzy Osbourne – DVD Review
It’s been ages since I last submitted anything to Cool-Shite. Previously, all I did was pick something I really liked that I thought would be good for Cool-Shite and reviewed it. Inevitably, everything I wrote about received a “cool” or “cool plus” rating. So I don’t really consider myself as a reviewer per-se; more a fan-boy with a laptop and some friends with a website that will post my ranting praise on something that recently got me moist. Which raises the question: why change now? I have to thank my wonderfully talented friend Kate Gordon, who was gracious enough to edit my ramblings and made me sound far more articulate than I really am (she included the word “vacillated”- impressive). It’s not every day some fan-boy with a laptop has the honour of being edited by a professional author- thanks bub! For the record I apologise about the moist comment and hope you’ll persevere, dear reader…
“God bless Ozzy Osbourne” is a documentary that was conceived and produced by Osbourne’s son, Jack, and took over two years to create. The movie begins with Ozzy’s sixtieth birthday. The man himself seems somewhat bewildered he’s actually survived sixty years, despite his best efforts at self-destruction. This mystifying longevity – of a man who by all accounts should be dead many times over – is one of the main issues Jack Osbourne concentrates on. Osbourne’s journey to redemption seems to be the main crux of the film. The narrative flip flops between current day concert footage of a sixty-plus-year-old icon still going at it, and the recounting of the life of one John Michael Osbourne from childhood to today. It takes a stylistically traditional path, discussing Ozzy’s troubled childhood, discovering the Beatles, drugs, the Sabbath years, more drugs, going solo in the 80’s, even more drugs, the drug-fuelled 90’s and beyond, drugs, drugs and… drugs (did I mention there were drugs? Holy shit- I knew he did a lot but the man is a walking miracle).
Besides his family (and for the record Sharon is still kinda’ hot- I know she’s had work done but red hair always gets me), reconciled former Sabbath band mates Bill Ward, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi (recently diagnosed with cancer- that sucks), offer their perspective. In addition many a musical superstar chimes in with their take. Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne’s bass player), Rob Trujillo (Metallica), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) all provide an insight into Black Sabbath’s (and Osbourne’s), legacy and influence on them. To top it off, Sir Paul McCartney also makes an appearance. Yup Sir Paul fucking McCartney shows up to offer his opinions on all things Sabbath. While the guy from Wings may initially seem an unusual choice for this documentary, McCartney is one of Osbourne’s heroes and it’s kind of cool to see a Beatle discuss the importance of Black Sabbath in the musical landscape.
Osbourne’s road to sobriety constitutes maybe twenty minutes at the end of the film and, originally, I felt this important stage in his life was covered a tad too briefly. After a second viewing I realised the documentary didn’t need to delve further into this era, as the narration of the documentary is from the point of view of a cleaned-up Ozzy, and the time given to his journey to recovery does successfully anchor the recounting of his life story- warts and all. Ozzy’s narration provides an unexpected insight into the proverbial “Diary of a Madman” as told by a lucid and honest man who has woken up after fifty-odd years of absolute lunacy. It’s not a pretty story. His children from both his first and second marriage state outright that he was an awful father. He and Sharon recount the story of his attempt on her life during a drug fuelled rage. The soul crushing setbacks – the death of his father, being booted from Sabbath, the death of Randy Rhoads and yes… the drugs– are all frankly discussed. Ozzy is adamant he doesn’t want Jack to “polish him up”. His son took him at his word.
My image of Ozzy always vacillated (heh) between that of a larger than life legend in the metal world who bites the heads off doves and bats (both notorious incidents are recounted in detail), or (with a dash of pity) of a bumbling incoherent junkie that “The Osbournes” reality show portrayed him to be. Jack wanted to show the world the good man his father became; one that was neither of these incarnations. Osbourne’s decision to change his life was inspired by Jack’s own quest to go sober (and an argument between the two where Ozzy says- “you have never wanted for anything in your fucking life!” to which Jack responds with “how about a father?”) It is amazing to see how candidly he discusses, and allows others to discuss, his multitude failings as a husband and as a father. The heart-warming trade off occurs when his family speak of how proud they are of him today. It also comes in his new-found pride in himself and, dare I say it, a sense of dignity. Man, I’m even proud of him and proud that I was a card-carrying member of a self-made (unofficial), “Black Sabbath Fan Club” in a Catholic high school (we had four members and had to justify the cards we made and wanted laminated by the library lady).
I’ve developed a new respect and admiration for Ozzy. His message is that you can’t change anything you’ve done; you can only make better decisions now and tomorrow. That concept alone has struck a chord with me I can tell you. It’s quite amazing how coherent and articulate he is now, when compared with what you saw on “The Osbournes”. Let’s get one thing straight, is he Orson Wells? No, he still stutters but gone is the incoherent mumbling that dominated the reality TV show. Scenes from “The Osbournes” make for disturbing viewing now and it’s uplifting to see such an assured clarity in his eyes, one that has only just manifested itself so recently.
I’ve always been inspired by any story of someone’s proverbial “road to redemption”. I was similarly inspired by the story of Jason Mewes’ victory over heroin addiction (as told by his hetero life-mate, Kevin Smith), and Dave Mustaine’s (Megadeth) candid recollections of his battle with the same demon. This story is not so different from those. Ozzy had an entire legion of demons on his shoulders, and he has managed to conquer them. “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” has managed to humanise the troubled beast that “sold his soul for rock and roll”. This was Jack’s agenda from the start and he achieves his goal beautifully. Extras include deleted scenes and a snippet from the Tribeca Film Festival but the Q&A with Ozzy and Jack makes for as moving a viewing experience as the main film itself. I’ll stop short of saying “God Bless- God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” (though I know you were waiting to hear it) but, unsurprisingly, I give “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” a “cool plus”. Then again, I only “review” things I like. This has simply been a tirade from a thirty-something metal-head about a movie that made him smile. One day I may choose to review something horrendous. Somehow I doubt it. But hey, if Sir Paul McCartney appeared on an Ozzy Osbourne DVD and spoke about how important Black Sabbath was to the history of music anything can happen.
While the conclusion to the film is given away in the liner notes, what it has to say sums up the whole movie perfectly:
“In the final scene of God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, a hidden camera captures the 62 year old rock’n’roll icon closing the door of his dressing room and getting down on his knees to pray. It’s not an unreasonable gesture given the nature of revelations in this documentary. Clearly the Prince of Darkness and the Man Upstairs have a lot to discuss.”
Rattle your goddamn head!
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Do you agree with Noel? Are you a massive Ozzy fan? or is he the devil incarnate? Feedback whilst you are rattling your goddamn head…
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