Daniel Radcliff has repeatedly shown over the last decade that he loves a challenge. Despite being part of one of the biggest franchises of the 21st century, Radcliffe cannily showed that he needed to push himself if he didn’t want to be stuck in typecasting hell. He’s gone from acting nude on the stage in a revival of “Equus” in between “Harry Potter” movies to playing a semi sentient farting corpse in “Swiss Army Man.” In between those extremes has been lighter fare, such as his work on the TBS series “Miracle Workers” with Steve Buscemi.
He’ll also take more interesting side roles like as the villain in this year’s “The Lost City.” The range of roles shows that Radcliffe takes his work seriously and rarely seems concerned with doing anything that one might consider safe. So it should come as no surprise that he was chosen to play “Weird” Al Yankovic in a biopic.
The only question was what kind of tone would the movie take. Early pictures of the actor on set didn’t really help in figuring out if this was a sincere project or something that would be a “Walk Hard” style parody.
Now we have the first trailer and it definitely looks like its not going to be a serious examination of the life of an artist. While that would certainly be interesting, it simply isn’t Weird Al’s style to be someone who is candid and raw. Yankovic’s reputation is fairly sterling as he is an avowed vegetarian who rarely drinks and has never done drugs. So making some lascivious expose or document of his struggles in adversity isn’t going to fly.
It looks like “Weird: The Al Yankovic” story is going to try to thread the needle in being sincere and a parody of the types of films these tend to be. The teaser trailer gives us snippets of Al’s unlikely rise to being one of the most steady forces in pop music. However we also get more cartoonish moments that show we aren’t supposed to be taking this at face value. A scene where a fit Radcliffe takes a swig of whiskey and spews it or when he is presented with multiple accordions at will sure doesn’t look like reality. On the other hand, Radcliffe looks like he’s trying to give a genuine performance here, unlike Aaron Paul‘s more ridiculous version in the original Funny or Die short from a decade ago.
It will be interesting to see what the final project will look like after its long development. Since Yankovic himself has remained involved, it seems like this will be more of a film that would’ve easily fit as a Sunday night movie out of “UHF” than anything else. Playing up the ridiculous has always been what made Weird Al a consistent presence for going on 40 years, so why mess with a bad thing? If nothing else, Radcliffe looks primed and ready to fit into this world and pay fitting tribute to a living legend.
“WEIRD: The ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic Story” is an exclusive Roku Channel release coming in the fall of 2022.