“God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” is the classic case of a film of two halves.
The first part of the documentary shows Ozzy as most of us have never seen him before – preparing for a show, warts and all. One of the advantages of having your son (and wife) co-produce this film is that you see Ozzy in a very natural light, moping around before a gig, following his 40 minute pre-performance routine (“5 minutes of physical exercise”…), then hitting the stage. They don’t hide the face that he can’t hit the notes he used to back in the day (and even that was somewhat questionable), and that even some of the shows might be a bit, well, shit. You do get the feeling though that he’s still really up for it, but the cynic in me says that the interference of his manager and wife, Sharon, definitely hints that he’s being fed some of the lines here. Do you really think he can be arsed signing every single one of the programs/t-shirts/whatever before every show?
Of course, the story of where is he now wouldn’t be complete with out talking about his up-bringing (poor, working-class), his adolescence (he was a ‘tit’ and a trouble-maker), and of course the beginning of the band that were the pioneers of Heavy Metal. His Black Sabbath band mates suggest that Ozzy only got in the band as he was the only one with a PA (that his father had bought for him), and that they didn’t take him seriously. It was after the huge success of the first four albums that things really went into a state of excess. His first marriage broke up (he still can’t remember when his first kids were born), eventually he was kicked out of Sabbath, the Randy Rhodes period when the solo career went through the roof, and all this time you actually wonder how he’s still alive today with all the gear he was taking (or more to the point, wasn’t taking).
As you’d expect, it’s not without its moments of humour as Ozzy claims that “I’m deaf!. The next tour will be in braille”, as we see him trying to do a sound check. In this part of the film Ozzy does manage to come across as quite likeable, is generally held in high-esteem (but maybe not for what you could call conventional reasons) by his peers, and you do feel yourself warming more and more to this truly original eccentric.
Then, it all goes a bit 90210. Hollywood. Drama. Bullshit. Too much Collagen and Botox on the screen at the same time, most of which don’t belong to the protagonist. This is where the family takes over the film and it all gets a bit self-indulgent and quite frankly, all a bit “woe is me”.
It’s hard not to agree with his kids (and his wife to an extent) that Ozzy didn’t give a shit about them and carried on in his own mad, rock’n’roll bubble. He claims that the reason he quit drinking and drugs was because his kids became addicts and he couldn’t deal with that as he was the cause of it all. That much may well be true, but the constant whining, whingeing, and general twattery of his kids (from the second marriage) just makes you want to yearn for more of the rock’n’roll stories. They hijack the remainder of the film and you get the feeling that they believe Ozzy wouldn’t be where he is today without them. They do not come across in a good light.
For the most part “GBOO” is an entertaining 90 minutes. And for music fans, I think it still has enough cred to cut through most of the sentimental bullshit and focus on the man, the madness, and the music.