Newest Review: ... of Meatloaf, beginning with his childhood. Standing out from the other kids at school because of his size, Meatloaf is picked on in a way t... more
To Hell and Back - a journey that I thoroughly enjoyed
Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back
Member Name: zombieflesh
Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back
Advantages: well produced, insightful, great performances
I've recently become a Sky customer and am obsessed with checking the movie channels for interesting titles that I can record and watch at my leisure. I've always been a fan of Meatloaf's music so when I spotted the biographical film, Meatloaf: to Hell and Back, this was one that I was very keen to see. The film was made by music channel VH1 and produced for television. You can catch it on the movie channels like I did, or there is a DVD version available to buy from www.amazon.co.uk.
Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes
Directed by: Jim McBride
Starring: W. Earl Brown, Dedee Pfeiffer, Zachary Throne
Certificate rating: PG
"Meat Loaf" Aday is an overgrown Texas youngster, the son of a gentle woman dying of cancer and an alcoholic, abusive father. Tormented by his father and schoolmates over his size, he strikes out on his own after his mother's death, in an impossible task to prove himself to the world and to himself. A chance audition for a musical leads him to join forces with composer Jim Steinman, and together the two make music history with the operatic rock album "Bat Out of Hell." But the demons that drive Meat Loaf aren't assuaged by success, and eventually he must come to terms with them.
This documentary film shows us a detailed look at the life of Meatloaf, beginning with his childhood. Standing out from the other kids at school because of his size, Meatloaf is picked on in a way that we can all recognise and sympathise with. I found the unknowing cruelty of the children to be very true to life, and this bullying also continues at home from his father who never wastes an opportunity to tell Meatloaf how big and useless he is. Meatloaf grows up feeling rejected by his father, which is a very deep-rooted issue that never leaves him. Meatloaf's mother is the only one on his side, and she is bedridden at home dying of cancer. The few simple scenes with Meatloaf and his mother show the bond and love that they shared, and these are some emotional moments.
Moving on into Meatloaf's adult life, we see the beginning of his career. Other than listening to and enjoying his music, I must admit I knew very little about the man himself or his career. This movie provides a great insight into Meatloaf's struggles to get into the music business and just how much hard work, dedication and sacrifice was required. Meatloaf meets Jim Steinman, a composer, when auditioning for a theatre production. They are both searching for something more, and form a deep friendship as well as a professional relationship develops quickly. They begin to work on the first album, Bat Out of Hell, and are met with lots of criticism and rejection. Finally their perseverance pays off and the album is released, although this causes a few problems between the two of them, but they continue to write and perform together.
As Meatloaf is breaking into the music industry, he also meets Leslie and the two have a whirlwind romance before being married. This comes with a whole raft of problems as Meatloaf struggles with his performances, touring, and keeping his relationship together as well as raising his two daughters. The scenes are tense and believable, and you can see all the ups and downs and how different aspects of their lives are causing issues, which thankfully are resolved in the end.
The best thing about this film, aside from the writing, are the performances by all of the lead actors. They do an absolutely incredible job. Leslie and Jim are dynamic and their supporting roles are hugely important to the way that the film is told, as well as obviously being hugely influential in Meatloaf's life. I felt excited watching Meatloaf and Jim begin their career together, and I was on Leslie's side hoping that everything would work out right for her and their family. I was really sucked in to the film thanks to the honest and believable performances. The main man himself is played by W Earl Brown - all I could think to begin with was WOW! The crew and costume department have done a stunning job getting him to look and dress like Meatloaf, and the styling is spot on. But W Earl does an absolutely incredible job of "becoming" Meatloaf. The way he looks is accurate enough to require a second (or third) look, and he handles some difficult scenes with a great skill that really came across to me as a viewer. As well as the acting, there is obviously a need for a few Meatloaf songs to be included. This covered some favourites and there are some fantastic versions where W Earl sounds just like the real thing, as well as adopting the mannerisms and movements that you can recognise from watching Meatloaf perform.
I totally enjoyed watching this film, and felt like it gave an accurate portrayal of Meatloaf's life that was approached in a sensitive but not sugar-coated way. There are some emotional ups and downs, as well as some fun rock 'n' roll moments, and at the end I felt like I had really been on the same ride as Meatloaf and seen him make his way back from Hell.
This is a remarkably well crafted TV movie and I would thoroughly recommend it. It really does justice to all of the people involved, and was made with a lot of care and attention to detail. If you appreciate Meatloaf's music then you get a real treat with the performances, as well as seeing an accurate representation of Meatloaf's personal life. I have saved this movie to my Sky box hard drive so I can enjoy watching it again - it's definitely one of the best straight to TV movies I've ever seen and is a real pleasure to watch.
Summary: To Hell and Back - a journey that I thoroughly enjoyed