There is only one way to tell the story of Alfred Matthew Yankovic, and that is with the truth…well sort of. Better known to the world by his stage name Weird Al Yankovic, the king of parody songs and accordion maestro has been in the music scene since the mid 70’s and has lived a stranger than fiction life. So it only makes sense that if he were to make a movie about his life than every element of it should be as outrageous as the comical genius himself. In a time where musician biopics are coming in more frequently they are also a reminder that they belong to one of the safest genres. And while biopic parodies have existed before (Walk Hard and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY is a hysterical mashup of not just every trope you’ll find, but also finds ways to parody the parodies themselves. If the film feels like a branch off of Walk Hard, it is because it is, but also grows even further to just never take itself serious while also delivering some wonderful filmmaking techniques and performances.
So who exactly do you get to play the six foot tall curly haired comedian/musician? Well five foot five straight haired Daniel Radcliffe of course! Radcliffe has become a wonderful enigma himself in his long and successful post Potter career. Where one could have taken safe roles and lived off every Hogwarts merchandise ever, Radcliffe instead has chosen a career of some truly unique roles. This includes a farting corpse (Swiss Army Man) a grieving man turning into a devil (Horns) and most recently a quasi-Elon Musk trying to kill Sandra Bullock (The Lost City). While the role may at first appear to be a stretch it is quickly clear that for Radcliffe he is finding a genre where he greatly excels. This is seen right from the very first seconds of the film where Weird Al (Radcliffe in a glorious wig) is rushed to the ER where he is quickly pronounced dead only to spring to life and do the first thing a musical genius does; write a new song. The film directed by Eric Appeal originated as a fake trailer for the Funny or Die Website and after years of fans begging for the real thing grew into a full length film that after the ER scene flashes us back to Yankovic’s upbringing. Al’s parents Mary and Nick Yankovic (Julianne Nicholson and Toby Huss respectively) are worried their son shows a strong interest in both polka music and the accordion (as any parents should be). Scenes involving a teenage Al (David Bloom) sneaking off to attend a high school polka party only for it to be broken up by the police lets you know exactly the kind of film you are in for. These moments continue throughout the film and as Al meets real life hero Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) the story is off to the races destroying any cliché in its way.
Where WEIRD succeeds best is it never lets up. There is never a dull moment and each joke is hit with sincerity and pure absurdity (it makes sense in context). The film also knows how to surprise whether it be a cameo filled pool party greatly mocking Boogie Nights or a drug infused rebirth that feels more Terrance Malick than it does Naked Gun. But if there is a hero than there must be an adversary right? Someone to disrupt any musicians rise to fame. So clearly the film most include the infamous well documented relationship between Weird Al and Madonna. When it becomes apparent that Al’s parody songs helps sales for the original artist, Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) uses this idea to seduce and destroy Al. Evan Rachel Wood may enter the film almost halfway through but she makes her presence known from the first moment. This is Madonna in the most perfect batshit crazy way (seriously I need a spinoff now). Wood all rocked out in Madonna’s 80 bedazzle quickly becomes Al’s main addiction and downfall. Wood’s performance as Madonna is also one of the year’s most exciting and bizarre. What begins as humorous exaggeration quickly grows into full on cartoon villain in ways you wouldn’t guess for a million dollars. The genius of the film and its two leads is that even when you assume strange things will occur it takes a left turn so ridiculous you just have to accept it as fact and rewrite history forever.
WEIRD may not receive the benefit of a theatrical release (the film will stream only on the Roku channel) but it is implored onto you to see this film with as big of a group as you can. As seen at its world premiere at the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival, this is the type of film that will have everyone laughing, cheering, crying, and running to your local music shop to purchase an accordion. A film that not only embraces the weird, but one that will prove that the only way to tell your life story is to make it as absurd as possible. After all even the truth deserves a parody.
WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY WILL STREAM EXCLUSIVELY ON THE ROKU CHANNEL NOVEMBER 4