Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Showbiz Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 22, 2001 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

The true Def Leppard story is wrought with plenty of classic rock star cliches (alcoholism, car accidents, backstage orgies and too-much-too-soon in general), ensuring a sensational approach from the bloodthirsty cable programmers at VH1. Essentially a dramatic recreation of a "Behind The Music" episode, Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story rings false and clueless throughout. In an effort to fit ten years of events into ninety minutes of air time, large portions of the band's history are boiled down into fictional shorthand, with incredibly corny show-biz platitudes spewing from the mouths of actors who don't look anything like their real-life counterparts. The film rushes Def Leppard from obscurity to stardom in order to focus on the tragedies that the band endured and overcame, coming off like a black leather soap opera. Since he never had any public meltdowns, bassist Rick Savage is relegated to near-cameo status, and the filmmakers supply some glib psychoanalysis to explain away guitarist Steve Clark's alcoholism (his old man was too tough on him - case closed). The film wisely concludes with one-armed drummer Rick Allen's overwhelming comeback with the Hysteria album, well before grunge rendered the band's hedonistic party-metal uncommercial and Clark succumbed to his demons in 1991. True Def Leppard fanatics probably already know the story, and any details given here aren't likely to be terribly accurate; Hysteria is clearly aimed at the casual fan, someone who turns up "Rock Of Ages" when it comes on the classic rock radio station, plays a little ironic air guitar and makes fun of people with mullets.