Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Review
When I first heard the news of Daniel Radcliffe's casting in a Weird Al biopic, I tweeted something to the effect of "Hollywood must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel for biopics if someone out there is making a Weird Al movie." Foolishly, I hadn't considered the possibility that Weird Al himself might be in on the joke. If Weird taught me anything, it's that it's never wise to count out Weird Al. Weird Al Yankovic saw the sea of endless musician biopics and decided to do what he does best--he chose to spoof them.
Weird tells the story of the unparalleled rise to fame of the aforementioned Al Yankovic, better known to the world as simply Weird Al. We first meet Al as a young kid, whose parents just don't understand him. Young Al dreams of pursuing his passion of rewriting the lyrics to popular songs with a comedic spin, but Al is told in no uncertain terms by his parents that they do not support this path. Instead, Al is expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and work in a soul-crushing factory for the rest of his life. But the trajectory of Al's life changes forever when a door-to-door accordion salesman stops by and introduces him to the instrument that would change it all.
There is a perfect genius to Weird and it all just works. Al and his career are the perfect foil to all the iconic musicians whose stories are told in biopic after biopic, all in the hopes of baiting that Oscar gold. His story makes for the perfect parody because he himself is the perfect parody. The movie reflects that and the humor throughout feels as familiar as any one of his songs. There's a real earnestness to the jokes and the characters that somehow make every aspect of the film funnier.
Radcliffe gives a hilarious performance--not so much portraying the real Weird Al Yankovic--but rather the Weird Al of an alternate universe where Al became one of the biggest recording artists of all-time, performing concerts shirtless and catching the eye of fellow pop-star, Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood). He's kind of preposterous in the role, but he's supposed to be. Meanwhile Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna is absolute perfection. Her Madonna is a toxic siren leading Al to the brink of destruction. In addition to Radcliffe and Wood, the film boasts numerous cameos of comedians eager to show their love and pay tribute to Al. Weird Al himself who also co-wrote and produced the film even has a small part as well.
My only issue with Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is its length. The film seems to run out of steam towards the end and you start to feel that runtime. Sometimes one can have too much of a good thing, and in the case of Weird, a more streamlined climax would have been beneficial in strengthening the film as a whole. Still, comedies this funny are increasingly rare these days, so I can't help but sing its praises to the tunes of Michael Jackson's greatest hits.