"Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Weird Al Yankovic is perhaps the king of song parodies, making fun of numerous popular songs throughout the past forty years. Because of this, it has garnered him worldwide acclaim and even a few Grammy Awards; in the time where musical biopics are huge in the film industry, it only seemed like a matter of time until Weird Al received his own biopic. However, in classic Weird Al fashion, he doesn't want to just tell the story of his life, but rather parody all of the musical biopics that have come out in recent years. Borrowing the tropes from the films about Freddie Mercury, Elvis, and Elton John, Weird Al and Eric Appel deliver a hilariously wild and rambunctious film, with an excellent performance by Daniel Radcliffe in the starring role.
It's important to note that besides the music present in this film, most, if not all, of the plot is a fictionalized version of Weird Al's life, from his emotionally abusive parents (played by Toby Huss and Julianne Nicholson) to him coming up with the song "Eat It", which Michael Jackson apparently parodied with his widely famous song "Beat It". When watching the first few minutes, especially when Al's dad beats the living crap out of the accordion salesman that came to his door, I was confused on what this movie was. It wasn't until later on when I figured out that this movie is rather a fictionalized, over exaggerated version of his life. I won't go into any specifics of some of the absurdity that happens throughout the movie, but it is definitely a wild ride.
Because of the parody-like nature surrounding this movie, I would say this is what the film does the best. It is hilarious, from the writing to the actual performances by Radcliffe and others. Yankovic and Appel really know what to deliver to garner laughs out of the viewer, and I think the entire movie moves at such an excellent pace and is able to inject a comedic nature in nearly every scene of this movie. Consider the scene where Al and Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) go to a restaurant, where Al learns about Jackson parodying his song. He throws a conniption fit, yelling and throwing things in the restaurant. It is mocking freakouts that rock stars and other celebrities have in public, and it is very brilliantly shot.
Radcliffe gives such a fantastic performance as the controversial pop artist, and looks almost unrecognizable in the giant afro wig and mustache. Radcliffe has stated multiple times that he has been trying to distance himself from his breakout role as Harry Potter in the film franchise of J.K. Rowling's popular book series, and that is evident in many films he has done, such as "Horns" and "Swiss Army Man". However, I think this movie is the perfect example of the acting range that Radcliffe possesses, and if he wants to shed that childhood persona as the famous wizard, I think he definitely succeeded here. He gives this role his all, and he is absolutely perfect in it. From his mannerisms to the way he delivers his lines, he really captures the essence of a pop star rising to stardom, with his eventual downfall and rise back to fame.
The movie also adds in numerous famous characters, such as Madonna, Wolfman Jack (Jack Black), Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), Pee-Wee Herman (Jorma Taccone), Tiny Tim (Demetri Martin), and so many more. However, there are also numerous celebrity cameos, such as Lin-Manuel Miranda playing an E.R. doctor in the opening minutes of the movie and Yankovic appearing every now and then throughout the film. It is jam-packed with cameos and references to other stars, which is fun for the viewer to pick out throughout the movie.
I think it would be interesting to see an actual biopic about the life of Weird Al, but honestly, I think I would have preferred this version regardless. This just oozes the weirdness and charm that Weird Al has possessed throughout his career, and it is fitting that this is the movie that was made for his life. I don't have any complaints, nor do I have any desire to see a truthful biopic about the singer. I think this movie is perfect for what it is, and I applaud both Yankovic and Appel for bringing all of their talents together to deliver a truly weird and delightful film.