Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000)
This biopic kicks off like a bat out of hell, with the opening credits being played over a superb recreation of Meat Loaf singing 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light'. Yet like the big man himself, once the action leaves the stage this film collapses. The difference being that it is the very lack of weight that causes the film's slump.
Flashback twenty years earlier to where an 11 year old fat kid is teased by alcoholic father, doted on by a dying mother and bullied by fellow classmates. Skipping through the next ten years to his mother’s death, Meat Loaf leaves home to pursue a career on the stage. He joins the cast of ‘Hair’, meets Jim Steinman, and spends the next few years trying to get ‘Bat Out of Hell’ off the ground. When success finally comes. Meat Loaf loses his voice, descends into alcoholism and declares bankruptcy before launching his comeback with ‘Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell’.
Plenty of material for a meaty biopic you’d think. But this film barely skims the surface, leaving some of the most significant parts of Meat Loaf’s life unexplained. The breakdown of his relationship with Steinman jumps from a dispute over album cover art to lawsuits and bankruptcy with little justification.
Which is a pity, for the performances of W. Earl Brown as Meat Loaf and Dedee Pfeiffer as his wife are top-notch. Yet by neglecting to put any meat on this biopic’s bones, the filmmakers have presented a viewing experience that is more akin to watching a really good tribute band.
Film depicts Meat Loaf auditioning for a part in Jim Steinman’s musical ‘More Than You Deserve’ in 1971. This did not occur until 1973.
Meat Loaf married Leslie Edmonds after ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ was released, not during its production.
Though Meat Loaf has enjoyed a successful film career, the biopic only covers his appearance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, intercutting footage from the original film with snippets of W. Earl Brown riding a motorcycle.