TV film review: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku, 2022), directed by Eric Appel
It’s not often you come across a film that started its life as a fake trailer on YouTube, but here we are. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story isn’t just a fake biopic of the life of “Weird Al” Yankovic, it’s a parody of the biopic genre.
Narrated by Diedrich Bader, we meet young Al (Richard Aaron Anderson) and his parents (Julianne Nicholson and Toby Huss). The boy enjoys changing the lyrics to well-known songs, but his father is unimpressed. His son should focus on more important things than music, so that he can start to work at the factory one day, just like his old man. One day an accordion salesman (Thomas Lennon) arrives on the doorstep, and taking pity on her son, Mrs Yankovic buys her son an accordion – if he promises to keep it a secret from his father.
Fast forward a few years, and the now college age Al (Daniel Radcliffe) is encouraged by his housemates (Jack Lancaster, Spencer Treat Clark, Tommy O’Brien) to record and submit a parody song to a local radio station, and the rest, they say, is history.
It’s fun to see the real Al Yankovic as a record exec, who, along with Will Forte, doesn’t want to sign the young comedy song writer. There are a number of people making a cameo in this film. From Lin-Manuel Miranda and Josh Groban to Patton Oswalt and Jack Black, to name only a few.
How much of this film is actually true, and genuinely reflects the life and career of Weird Al? Umm. Very little, probably? Yes, he got started on the Dr Demento (Rainn Wilson) radio show, and he was approached by Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) to parody one of her songs, but everything else around this? I doubt it. I don’t actually know, but considering Weird Al is apparently pretty clean cut in real life, odds are the film is very different from reality. (The ending in particular.)
Is it funny? Yes, definitely. Is there polka? Yes. Excellent parody songs? Yes, all the Weird Al classics you know and love. How is Daniel Radcliffe acting with a wig and a ‘tache? Phenomenal, but ever since I saw him being funny in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I’ve thought he was an underrated comedian. (If you haven’t seen him in Miracle Workers, by the way, do yourself a favour and watch it. It’s a brilliant show, and Steve Buscemi’s also in it.) Evan Rachel Wood is a fabulous 1980s Madonna. You can tell they all had heaps of fun making this film, and it’s funny how the film itself is a parody. It’s like every other musician biopics you’ve seen before, while at the same time it parodies the heck out of all of them.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them, and if you’re a fan of Weird Al, it’s a must-see. Fortunately, it came out on Roku, which means it’s free to watch with ads. And it’s well worth it.
4.9 out of 5 polka parties.