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Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (A Movie Review)

Updated: May 15, 2023


Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Toby Huss, Julianne Nicholson, Quinta Brunson, David Bloom, Spencer Treat Clark, Dot-Marie Jones, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Will Forte, Scott Aukerman, James Preston Rogers, Tommy O'Brien, Nina West, Arturo Castro, Conan O'Brien, Jack Black, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Demetri Martin, Paul F. Tompkins, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patton Oswalt, Thomas Lennon and Nat Faxon.

Screenplay by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Eric Appel.

Directed by Eric Appel.

Distributed by Roku Originals. 108 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened at the 2022 Philadelphia Film Festival.

I’m not big on superlatives and I find it hard to believe I’m about to write this, but Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is the funniest film comedy I’ve seen all year. By a long shot.

Now I know that sounds strange. And before you ask, no I’m not a Weird Al superfan, although I like him well enough. (Who doesn’t?) I’ve never seen (or had much urge to see) his previous attempt at film stardom with UHF, although I have heard relatively good things about it over the years.

And yet, I say it again – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is absolutely hysterical.

As you may get from the title, it is a takeoff on the traditional rock and roll bio pics, although it is very, very loosely based on the life of Yankovic. Or, as it is described online: “The unexaggerated true story about the greatest musician of our time. From a conventional upbringing where playing the accordion was a sin, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic rebels and makes his dream of changing the words to world-renowned songs come true. An instant success and sex symbol, Al lives an excessive lifestyle and pursues an infamous romance that nearly destroys him.”

This deviation from pure fact is what makes it so funny. Imagining the goofy, good-natured, teetotaling novelty singer Yankovic as a surly drunken rock star is comedy gold. And imagining a world where a man can conquer the rock charts with a Hawaiian shirt, an accordion and a dream – to make up funny words to other people’s songs – is just so weird that it can only be true. Or true-ish.

I mean come on, just the idea alone of Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) playing Weird Al is meta enough to blow your mind. And he does a damned good job of it, too.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Pablo Escobar and Madonna connections, nor when (according to Weird), Michael Jackson plagiarized Al’s magnum opus.

It’s silly, it’s stupid and it’s undeniably funny.

Weird Al himself even has a bit part as one of the Scotti Brothers, the record label owners who signed him and released his early records. (Other Scotti Bros. acts which became marginal stars included Survivor, John Paul Young, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and Leif Garrett.)

One slight caveat... Weird: The Al Yankovic story was made as an original production for the new streaming machine Roku, which very few people have, so it may take some work to track the movie down. You can stream it on Roku’s website as well. More to the point, having seen it on a big screen at the Philadelphia Film Festival with a hysterical crowd (and Weird Al in the house), I realize that a theater is the way that it should be seen. (With or without Weird Al.) Weird is a film that works a lot better as a community experience than it would sitting alone watching it at home. They really should have given it a brief theatrical release.

But see it any way that you can. It’s that funny.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: October 28, 2022.


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