If you have to question the truth of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” you don’t know enough about the man himself nor are you as versed in parody as you may have thought. One doesn’t have to look past the first five minutes of hilariously unsupportive parents with an inexplicable vendetta against accordions to know that almost everything you’re about to see is fabricated, outrageous, fictitious exaggeration at best. And that is wholly in line with who the real Weird Al is; consistently oozing with charm and silliness and always down for a good, elaborate joke.
This film couldn’t have come at a better time, too. Packed with laugh out loud moments, celebrity cameos, and adding yet another wrinkle to Daniel Radcliffe‘s ever expanding talents with his impeccable comedic timing, “Weird” is exactly the kind of joyous, silly, raucous romp we could all use right now.
Directed by Eric Appel and co-written by Appel and Al Yankovic, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is a satire of biopics, and an overtly weird and over the top exaggeration of Yankovic’s life and rise to stardom. Played expertly by Radcliffe as Yankovic, the film is packed with so many celebrity cameos (including a wonderfully hilarious stand out performance from Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna), the film masterfully satirizes the genre without ever delving into the “Epic Movie” or “Meet the Spartans” territory.
“Weird” plays its satire straight, and is more in the vein of “Walk Hard” (easily one of the best biopic satires to date and “Weird” deserves to be in the same breath as one that gets for more right than wrong) in which you can easily pick out the artists and eye rolling Hollywood tropes and laugh at how silly it all is. “Weird” has it all: unsupportive parents, instant fame and success with very little trial and error, drug and alcohol abuse, rock bottom, redemption, and even a little drug cartel spy thriller in the middle of the jungle just to keep things, well, weird.
“Weird‘ hits every biopic beat and then some, blending the strengths of parody with Yankovic’s already weird persona and comedic mind. It made me want to immediately rewatch “UHF,” another criminally underrated outing from Yankovic and one that also packs itself full of outrageous, off-putting comedic elements. What really sells “Weird‘ though is Radcliffe, who seems to clearly understand the assignment and demonstrates why he was hand picked by Al himself to play himself. Radcliffe plays everything as straight as he possibly can, and in turn sells the comedy and timing of “Weird.” There’s a hilarious scene that takes place at a pool party (a very clear parody of “Boogie Nights“) in which a celebrity cameo (no I won’t spoil it here) taunts him to come up with a parody song on the spot, to which Yankovic (Radcliffe) is mocked for not being able to right away. Of course, he does moments later, cranking out “Another One Rides the Bus” and proving everybody wrong, winning over the crowd, and becoming a bonafide celebrity among celebrities.
Radcliffe is so genuine and dedicated to this moment of victory, playing an accordion like he’s battling the Devil himself for it while singing a parody song about the mundane activity of public transportation you’d think this was his Oscar clip. It’s the kind of thing that conjures up so many silly biopic moments like this one and you can’t help but laugh, but its Radcliffe’s feigned sincerity that really sells these kinds of moments. “Weird” is full of them, and almost all of them land thanks to the consistency of the parody, the outrageousness of how far Yankovic and Appel are willing to go, and the charm and talents of Radcliffe. I would be remised if I didn’t also highlight Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, who also seems dialed into the parody assignment. We don’t often get to see Wood cut loose and have some fun, and “Weird‘ lets her go absolutely nuts with her interpretation. it’s a goddamn delight, and I genuinely hope Wood gets more opportunities like this. If anyone deserves a chance to have some fun, it’s certainly Evan Rachel Wood.
You can tell that both Appel and Yankovic really wanted everyone to play everything as a dramatic biopic regardless of how ridiculous the situations are around them, and that dichotomy of dramatic actors giving dramatic performances in a truly ridiculous parody really sell the comedy in “Weird.” The film achieves what it sets out to achieve, pleasing long time fans of Yankovic and his work but also gaining new ones who may discover a whole new genre of comedy music through this comedic satire. There’s a sweetness to it all too, in which, despite how obviously fictionalized everything is in “Weird‘ nevertheless captures the heart of who Al Yankovic is and has been to the industry. He has always been unafraid to make everything the joke, including himself. And the sincerity and dedication from Radcliffe (and others, but mainly him) make “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” a winning outing.
The film may be a little too out there for some, especially if you’re not familiar with Yankovic and his contributions to parody both in film and music. If you didn’t grow up with Dr. Demento (played terrifically by Rainn Wilson) or an ever growing stack of Yankovic CDs (no time to explain what those are, kids) or have never even heard of “UHF,” then truthfully this one may go over your head. I would say even then it’s worth seeing for the biopic satire, which continues to be deserving of ridicule so long as “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains a Best Picture Nominee. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is a wild ride, one that is packed with laughs, limitless satire, stellar performances, and (perhaps most appropriate) weirdness.
I believe the film would’ve done pretty well at the box office, but you know me. I’m a huge advocate for letting people see your movies, and “Weird” being completely free on Roku is kind of the perfect release for a film about Weird Al by Weird Al. You don’t even need a subscription to watch it. You can literally just google it and start playing it rather quickly.
I highly recommend doing so, too. Because “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is exactly the kind of outrageous parody and escapism we need right now. And sometimes, it’s good to be weird.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is currently streaming for free on Roku. You can watch the trailer below.