At the outset of Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise, the portly Bat Out of Hell singer tells documentarian Bruce David Klein that this behind-the-scenes film is “about the here and now,” and not his legendary tumultuous past. Take the statement as a cue to flee this nonfiction portrait pronto, since the ensuing footage of Meat, née Marvin Lee Aday, rehearsing for, and kicking off, his 2007 world tour in support of Bat Out of Hell III turns out to be pure promo fluff. Klein addresses Meat’s rise to fame in 1977, his vital relationship with writing partner Jim Steinman, and his 1993 comeback with nothing but a few perfunctory text cards that offer less insight than the artist’s Wikipedia page. In place of a history lesson, the director (when permitted) follows Meat around rehearsal studios, backstage corridors, and hotel rooms, and discovers that the 59-year-old star is a perfectionist and (per friend Dennis Quaid’s words) an “angster.” The sight of a thoroughly exhausted Meat struggling to make his way back to a dressing room after a performance captures the exertion necessary to put on a flamboyant, theatrical show such as his. Yet rather than exploring the toll such hard work takes on his health, psyche, and personal life, Klein attempts to wring drama from trivial issues. Meat has sinus discomfort midway through a concert! Meat is tired from a brutal travel day! And, most central to In Search of Paradise, Meat is concerned about all the critics savaging his staging of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” which—because it features him grabbing and making out with a 28-year-old singer in a skimpy cheerleader outfit—they deem perverted! The pressing dilemma thus involves the degree both to which Meat is creepy, and to which he can tone down said creepiness by altering choreography. Let’s just say the outcome is as dull as the situation itself, though no more so than Klein’s unrevealing depiction of life on the road. The film culminates with a show being taped for a concert DVD, and it’s on that disc, as a “special feature,” that this for-fans-only trifle belongs.
- 88 min
- Bruce David Klein
- Bruce David Klein
- Meat Loaf
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