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‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ gives musician biopics the satirical Weird Al treatment

When it comes to parody music, it is hard to think of a more well known musician than “Weird Al” Yankovic. He has been in the industry for over 40 years, has sold millions of albums and even had a number one album. Like most famous musicians, it is only natural that he gets a biopic about his life. He is ready to share his fully authentic and 100% true story. However, would it really make sense for Weird Al to be truthful and serious in his movie? Of course not. The man is known for parodying songs, so it is time for him to start parodying movies. The genre of musician biopics has been done to death, and Weird Al knows this. So he has taken the common tropes and created a comedic parody film that is framed as a serious biopic. What started as a fake trailer for Funny or Die back in 2010 is now a feature film that tells the “life” of everyone’s favorite accordion-playing comedy musician. This film came out on Nov. 4 on Roku, but don’t worry about having to get a new streaming service. If you have access to the internet, just go to the Roku website and you can watch this film for free. So you have no excuse not to go on a comedic journey about a particularly weird man.

Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe) has not led an easy life, and the hardships began in his childhood. His mom (Julianne Nicholson) and dad (Toby Huss) never supported his dreams. Accordions and parody music infuriated them to their core and they just wanted Yankovic to work at the factory with his dad. However, Yankovic wants to follow his dreams of coming up with new lyrics to already written songs. Once he is off at college, he explores these passions with his roommates (Spencer Treat Clark, Jack Lancaster and Tommy O’Brien), who become his backup band. After coming up with great hits like “My Bologna” and “I Love Rocky Road,” Yankovic finds success and is taken under the wing of popular radio host Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson). Yankovic soon becomes the biggest musician of all time, going quadruple platinum and having every singer looking for the “Weird Al bump” by being parodied. Yankovic then meets the seductive Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) who is just captivated by him. Yankovic soon gives into the pressures and dangers of rock and roll life. He is going to have to learn what the music is all about, and why he picked up that accordion in the first place.

I have watched a decent amount of musician biopics in my life, so I usually know what I am going to get when I watch one. That is what makes this movie so great. I could simultaneously predict what would happen and still be totally surprised. The writing on this film was very tight. While there were some minor details that came from Yankovic’s life, most of the movie was borrowing ideas from other movies. From the unsupportive parents trope to being laughed out of a record label to partying with celebrities and doing drugs, this film did it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a fan of musician biopics and this film has not changed that. However, the satirical skills were off the charts. By exaggerating a lot of these ideas and adding a lot of self aware lines, this film had me laughing a lot. Around the second act, it felt like they made all the jokes they could and that it was going to get tiring. However, once we got to the third act, the satire was dialed up and everything went wild in the best way. That was when everything went fully unexpected. The film was action and laugh-packed, and was able to cleverly show how Hollywood could use some new ideas. This parody film was a new idea that was well done. 

Now, while I liked this film, I did find it to be all over the place at certain times. There was a lot of excitement which led to some overwhelming points. Sometimes when watching a film, you may want it to slow down so that you can take a breather. This was a movie that seemed to tell a new joke every second. I laughed at all of the jokes, but this is not for people who want their movies to be calm. Audiences should be prepared for high energy, from the humor to performances to the high stakes action. It was a little all over the place, but that should probably be expected based on the writers. This film was written by Yankovic, who clearly knows his way around comedy writing, for the radio or for the big screen, and also likes to have a lot of fun with what he does. It was also written by Eric Appel, who directed this film and also wrote the fake Funny or Die trailer that this was based on. Appel made his feature film debut with this film, but it was shot like he had been in the business for a while. His wacky Funny or Die internet sketch work translated pretty decently, if not wildly, into film. While this film was a rollercoaster, I would go on it again, and I hope to see more films from these writers in the future.

Playing the part of Yankovic involves some pretty big shoes to fill and a pretty big accordion to carry. Luckily, Radcliffe was able to do the job justice. Radcliffe was able to get that huge acting check as a child in “Harry Potter” and has spent his adult acting career doing any fun project he can, like the hit tv series “Miracle Workers” where he played an angel saving the world and “Guns Akimbo” where he played a man with guns bolted to his hands. Radcliffe is continuing the crazy train, or weird train, with the role of Weird Al, and he really gave it his all. This is a part that was really all over the place and you could tell that Radcliffe was having an absolute blast. His role required him to play a bunch of hilarious moments as straight as possible, which he definitely did. From the energy of performing to his wildness when partying to all of his action stunts, Radcliffe brought a lot to the role. He did not actually sing the songs, that was all Yankovic but his passion in performing made it all believable. I also enjoyed Wood’s performance as Madonna, which was a role that unraveled as the film went on. When she first appears, you can tell Wood has the right comedic energy, but it is hard to see how important this role will be and where it is going. As the film goes on and she becomes more involved, it becomes clear that this part is not simple and it is not the type of performance you would think of if you were thinking of the role of Madonna. Even though this was a very exaggerated character that does not feel very grounded, Wood does a great job with the material that she was given. Every single performance in this film is filled with comedy and every actor was well casted. Even though this film is a parody, every actor took their job very seriously.

While this was a fairly unique film, it is not the first film to be a musician biopic parody. There was “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” to give two examples. However, what makes this film unique is that it was a fake story with a real subject. It almost feels like this is what Yankovic has been working his whole career towards. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is a Weird Al song come to life. This film is a blend of many different genres to tell an epic life story. It was a very tongue in cheek film that almost felt like it was constantly breaking the fourth wall. It was like you and the writers were in on an inside joke for old Weird Al fans and for people who are new to the comedy music genre. So if you are either of those people, a general Daniel Radcliffe stan or you have been spending most of life living in an “Amish Paradise,” watch “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” on Roku today.

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