Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
When it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe was playing national treasure “Weird Al” Yankovic in a biopic that would “go into detail of Al’s famous sordid life” I couldn’t help but laugh at all the reactions to people who seemed confused by it all. Al, famously one of the nicest, most clean living humans ever, was doing what he always has done. Parody. Though played as if it’s the gospel truth, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is the greatest song parodist of all time turning his eye to the musical biopic.
There’s been a string of them lately. Between something like “Ray,” “Walk the Line,” or the more recent “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Elvis,” the form is ripe for parody. And simply put, “Weird Al” succeeded. I laughed so hard watching “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” that something happened the next day that I do not think has ever happened before. I was a little hoarse from laughing. “Weird” is an extremely funny, and appropriately, weird movie. For those of us who have been longtime, die-hard, “Weird Al” fans it’s full of easter eggs as well.
The movie tells the “100% authentic truth” of “Weird Al’s” life and career. Including his struggles with drinking, alienating his bandmates, and his famously torrid love affair with pop star Madonna, played by Evan Rachel Wood. Even in the press and interviews for “Weird”, the cast keeps this up by pointing out how true the story of Al’s life here is. No one winks about this, and it’s all the better.
There are bits of the actual truth to Al Yankovic’s story in the movie, but those kernels are exploded into exaggerated bits of popcorn. Al did learn the accordion due to a door-to-door salesman, and legendary radio show host Dr. Demento did discover Weird Al. But Al growing up with parents who disapproved of what he liked, having a self-destructive alcoholic streak, and going into a fight with drug lord Pablo Escobar is, well, not true.
“Weird: The Al Yankovic” story is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a tour-de-force of parody, random cameos, and wonderfully over-the-top absurdism that makes it a pure joy from start to finish. There are layers of it being a parody of the biopic, but the way it plays with those little kernels of truth from Al’s life makes it soar into rarefied air. It also is aided that Actual Weird Al is in the movie as a music executive.
Daniel Radcliffe plays the part of this “heightened” version of “Weird Al” perfectly. The dramatic gravitas that Radcliffe uses makes it all the funnier. As in the moment where Al stares at a package of bologna as The Knack’s “My Sharona” plays on the radio and he has the serious eureka moment of writing his first successful song “My Bologna.”
This movie is exclusively on The Roku Channel and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s been a rough few years and this is the movie we all deserve. A funny, brash, strange, and appropriate demented look at the career of one of the most beloved musicians to have ever lived. “Weird: The Al Yankovic” story is a gift for us all to enjoy this festive season. Seek it out, I think you’ll find it a wonderfully warp ride to take. See you next week.