Curious About Movies: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
And so we get yet another musician biopic. Yawn.
The thing is, after a while, you come to know what to expect from musician biopics. So many of them follow the same tropes as they go through the motions of chronicling events in the subject’s life, and taking the occasional artistic license with a few events and the actual timeline of events.
As with any musician biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story has the drama you come to expect. There’s the rebellion against a father who only gradually comes to accept his son’s genius in the third act of the movie. There’s clashes and eventual reconciliation with the musician’s bandmates. There’s the inspiration for one of his greatest hits after a drug-induced dream sequence. And there’s the infamous romance with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) that threatens to destroy him.
He nearly loses everything, only to end up reconciling with his friends and family, and moving on to greater fame and acceptance. At least until…
Well, this is being posted on April Fool’s Day, so I might as well come clean now.
Okay, okay. I’m not Curiosity Inc. This isn’t another Movie Curiosities column. And Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is not really a musician biopic, though it’s promoted as one.
Instead, it’s a brilliant parody of a musician biopic, co-written and co-produced by “Weird” Al Yankovic himself (Yankovic also cameos as Tony Scotti, record exec). It’s a mixture of a few true stories of Al’s early career along with a whole bunch of untrue or wildly exaggerated events.
The problem is, it’s hard to really do a review of it without spoilers. However, I’ll say it starts with the somewhat true, somewhat exaggerated story of how Al obtained his first accordion (however, I will note that in real life, both of Al’s parents were fully supportive of Al’s musical ambitions from the beginning, and while not related to ‘polka king’ Frankie Yankovic, they both encouraged him to play the accordion because they thought it’d be nice to have another accordion-playing Yankovic in the world).
It then moves on to tell of how Dr. Demento (played by Rainn Wilson) helped Al get his first nationwide exposure. There’s even a few shoutouts to other musician biopics along the way, such as when Al meets John Deacon (one of the lesser known members of Queen, despite his writing one of their biggest hits, which Al parodies as ‘Another One Rides the Bus’), and the reference to Live Aid both during the movie and during the closing credits song.
I honestly don’t know how much further I can go with this without spoiling too much. All I can say is that the more the film exaggerates or invents details or changes things completely, the more hilarious the movie becomes.
As far as acting goes, I was greatly impressed with Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Al. He almost disappears into the role. Evan Rachel Wood also shines as this film’s Madonna, and while Rainn Wilson does a good impression of the legendary Dr. Demento.
So go ahead, see the movie in whatever format’s available. If you already have Roku or whatever streaming service it’s playing on by the time you read this, go right ahead and give this one a chance. I will, however, say that the film probably works best if you’re at least somewhat familiar with “Weird” Al Yankovic and his history, and if you’re familiar with the various biopic tropes the film parodies.
Anyway, it’s worth seeing from beginning to end. Stick around for the closing credits song and pay close attention to the lyrics and the visuals. All in all, if you’re an Al fan from way back, I’d say you’ll certainly appreciate this brilliant biopic parody.
2 thoughts on “Curious About Movies: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
Very amusing. That first part really does read like I could’ve written it. Kudos.
Is it the most faithful biopic? Hardly. Is it the most entertaining biopic? Quite possibly.