‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ – Review (TIFF)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story goes for broke in a way that only Al Yankovic could think of. It is a hilarious and engaging romp that knows what it is and what it wants to be and never falters from that.

In 1984 the song ‘Eat It’ by parody singer-songwriter Weird Al Yankovic peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts at 12. The song this parody was based on, ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson, came out 2 years prior to ‘Eat It,’ but only managed to peak on the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts at 19. The parody from the relatively new and unknown artist was able to take a song from “The King of Pop” and not only parody the track but, quite literally, “beat it” on the charts.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story tells the story of legendary singer-songwriter Weird Al Yankovic and his rise to fame as one of the very first parody artists. Weird follows an extremely fictional version of Yankovic, played by Daniel Radcliffe, as he rises to fame in a very niche genre.

In Jim Carrey’s recent novel Memoirs and Misinformation, Carrey promises “None of this is real and all of it is true.” That one line is all you need to understand the sheer absurdity and nonsense that is Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Written by Weird Al, alongside director Eric Appel, Weird dives into a territory of self-aware that cinema has never seen before. Yankovic, who quintessentially changed the music industry and provided a platform for artists like The Lonely Island, takes his clever formula of making up new words to a song that already exists and transfers it seamlessly to the big screen.

If this had come from anyone else other than Weird Al, it would have been seen as a cringe SNL skit gone too long, but because it came from the world’s greatest parody artist, it achieves absolutely everything it sets out for. It pokes fun at the music business, the film industry, and most importantly, Weird Al himself, which coincidentally might be the best part of the entire film. Not that the scenes in which Weird Al is jabbing at how ridiculous his rise into the music industry was are any more spectacular or funny than the rest, no, what Yankovic does best in this film is opening himself up in a vulnerable way that many artists never want to get to.

With biopics and especially musical biopics today, there is this need to show rags to riches rise into stardom and how the pitfalls along the way were just small speed bumps towards a grand finale that both shocks and amazes everyone. Yankovic knows that his rise to stardom wasn’t that, I mean he didn’t even have to think of his own songs, which gives him the freedom to create any story or situation that he needs to humor the audience and make the film worth watching. Yankovic dives into the nuances of his career and brings them forward in a poetic and honest way. This is the sort of self-realization that The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was lacking, and will only work to cement Yankovic’s legacy as one of the greats even more.

Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as the famous artist is hands down one of the best of the year, and one that tops the charts of his already prolific and diverse career. In this film, he doesn’t play the Weird Al we know, and he definitely doesn’t attempt an imitation either. Instead, he plays a different version of the real-life character altogether in a way that both resembles Weird Al as a person and an artist and pokes fun at the niche career he made for himself. Radcliffe doesn’t fit the role, but he was never supposed to fit the role of Al Yankovic. He does however have the charm, enthusiasm, and most of all confidence to bring this person to life in a way that only Weird Al could have ever imagined.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story goes for broke in a way that only Al Yankovic could think of. It is a hilarious and engaging romp that knows what it is and what it wants to be and never falters from that. It is b-level schlock, but it is exactly the kind of movie that fits the life of Weird Al, and it is elevated to a new place by Daniel Radcliffe.

Grade: A-

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: Best Actor, Best Original Song

Release Date: November 4, 2022
Where to Watch: The Roku Channel

Jacob Throneberry
he/him @Tberry57
Loves movies, the awards season, and this dog (even if he isn’t his).
Favorite Director: Bo Burnham
Sign: Leo

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