What happens when Weird Al Yankovic verges into movies instead of just making song parodies? You get Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Promised as “The unexaggerated true story about the greatest musician of our time”, this biopic takes all the other ones that came before it and ups the ante. For a movie called Weird, even if it embellishes *a little bit* about the life and times of Alfred Yankovic, it does go off the rails slightly in the finale. However, the performances, writing, and biting parody of the biopic genre all bring this one into the upper pantheon of music biopics.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story stars Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, and features cameos from the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Will Forte, Jack Black, Conan O’Brien, Weird Al, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Patton Oswalt. Eric Appel directed it with a script from Yankovic and Appel. The movie originally started off as a Funny Or Die sketch all the way back in 2010. The Roku Channel picked up the movie and it’ll be streaming exclusively there starting on November 4th.
As for the film, like Weird Al’s songs, it looks and sounds a lot like music biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, but it has some silly content that’s more than just a one-joke movie. In any other hands, this might’ve flopped under the weight of all the silliness, but Appel and Yankovic have a script that is self-aware and knows exactly what it’s doing.
Certifiably Ridiculous But Sweet
Al (he doesn’t become Weird until later in the movie) is a kid that dreams of making music. Not original music (that also comes later) though, he wants to take other people’s lyrics and make them goofy. His parents (Julianne Nicholson and Toby Huss) don’t understand this fascination and want him to join his dad to work at the factory. After going to college, his star rises after a chance encounter with “My Sharona” becoming “My Bologna”. Quickly, within minutes, he’s on the radio and a star, right? Wrong. After a meeting with record executives (played by Weird Al and Will Forte), he’s been broken down. That doesn’t stop him though, and quickly he’s back to making hit parodies of incredibly popular songs.
Things move fast in Weird, it might be around an hour and forty minutes long, but it feels very much like a VH1 Behind-The-Music doc with the pacing in the early section. Like Behind-The-Music, you need the fall with the rise, and Weird Al’s fall begins by meeting the sex-crazed Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood). She has ulterior motives with Al and wants to get her songs parodied for that Yankovic bump in the charts. Her psychotic, succubus-like performance as the “antagonist” of Weird is fantastic. She’s trying to wear him out with sex, drugs, and alcohol. You have to see it to believe how her character turns out at the end of the movie. Let me just say it involves mountains of cocaine and Pablo Escobar.
Daniel Radcliffe does a tremendous amount of heavy lifting with some content that would make less “all-in” performers wilt under the pressure. He never breaks and gives this role everything he’s got.
A Fever Dream Of Time And Space
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story might take a lot of liberties with timelines, release schedules, fashion, and how ripped Weird Al might or might not have been in the ’80s, but it ends up being incredibly wholesome and uplifting. It might have extreme amounts of silliness, but in the end, the message is to stick to what makes you happy and go for your dreams. In the world of music biopics that somehow take themselves too seriously, and make the bands and members look far too pretty, this one leans into that concept and comes out the other side covered in cocaine. It’s a biopic fitting for Weird Al and all the amazing music he’s given us through the years.
For more Reviews, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.