Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise

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Far more appropriate to be a concert DVD extra feature, "Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise" is an impressionistic portrait of the colorful rocker that is woefully lacking the depth that would justify this theatrical release. While the documentary will no doubt appeal to the many fans who made "Bat Out of Hell" one of the biggest-selling rock albums of all time, it stands mainly as a missed opportunity.

Bruce David Klein's film concentrates on the 2007 world tour supporting "Bat Out of Hell III," the second sequel to the iconic 1977 release. Although it provides some biographical snippets about the singer's life and career, it does so in a perfunctory, less than illuminating manner. Ignored, for instance, is the well-reported long-term feud with collaborator Jim Steinman.

The singer (whose real name is Marvin Lee Aday) proves an irascible and less than cooperative subject, often seen railing against the camera's presence. There are times when his shyness is understandable, especially when the filmmaker focuses on his near complete collapse after delivering one of his high-energy shows.

As hinted at in the subtitle, a dramatic theme of sorts is established with the difficulty over the staging in the show of one of his trademark numbers, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Featuring the portly 59-year-old sexily cavorting with a barely clad, nubile twentysomething female singer, it raises the ire of music critics who deem the routine perverted and unsavory. Eventually the singer finds a way to successfully restage the number in a manner that trades tawdriness for nostalgia.

Although a highly charismatic figure, Meat Loaf's reticence to reveal himself in front of the camera ultimately proves detrimental, and the brief appearance of Dennis Quaid, who joins in with the band on a rendition of "Gloria" and amusingly describes the singer as an "angster," provides scant compensation.
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