God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is an engrossing and fascinating look into the life of rock survivor Ozzy Osbourne, directed by Mike Fleiss and produced by Osbourne’s son, Jack.
While the documentary covers much of the same material as Osbourne’s biography, I Am Ozzy, it is much less funny than the book. While the book is told exclusively from Ozzy’s viewpoint and based on his memory of events, the film uses never-before-seen footage as well as interviews with family members, band mates, and fellow musicians such as Tommy Lee of Motley Crue to document just what a destructive path Ozzy was on and how it affected those around him. Even Ozzy himself, now clean and sober, is somewhat shocked when his older children say that they did not consider him a good father when they were small. And while he has no trouble looking at pictures of himself passed out with a bottle of Vicodin in his mouth, he cannot sit through his solo videos from the ’80s, saying that they were boring and awful and he was bloated and out of his head for all of them.
One issue I have with the documentary is that it does not have a great deal of structure. It jumps from concert footage to short sections of Ozzy looking at photos to family interviews to shots of Ozzy and Sharon visiting his childhood home, with no real pattern. Nevertheless, this loose style does fit Ozzy’s chaotic life.
Ultimately, the film is a story of triumph, as Osbourne has been clean and sober for five years now. He explains in the film that it was when his son Jack got clean that he decided he could do it, too. He had been in rehab many times and had failed, but with Jack’s example, he was able to slowly stop drinking and give up all drugs except the ones he has to have for very real physical conditions.
While Osbourne’s speech is still slurred, he is much easier to understand than he once was, and he walks straighter and without as much of an amble. Fascinating footage shows how he prepares today for shows, with physical exercise and voice exercises.
Extra features are fairly sparse on the DVD, but include an interesting Q and A session with Jack and Ozzy, in which Jack explains that he wanted to make the documentary because he did not want people to confuse his father, John Michael Osbourne, with his stage persona, Ozzy, The Prince of Darkness. There is also a small segment on the Tribeca Film Festival premiere and some deleted scenes, of which the most touching is Ozzy talking about the death of Randy Rhodes.
While God Bless Ozzy Osbourne will probably not add any new information for those who have followed Ozzy’s career from his Black Sabbath days until now, or for those who have read his book, the documentary is well worth seeing for the concert footage and interviews. That Ozzy survived, continues to perform, has mended his relations with all of his children and his siblings, and has a stable and loving marriage is a tribute to the underlying goodness and likeability of a man who surely stretched the boundaries of bad behavior as much as anyone can and live to tell of it.