“We agreed it would be best for all of us if you’d just stop being who you are and doing the things you love” – this dialogue from the 2022 movie ‘Weird: The Ak Yankovic Story’ was both heartbreaking and hilarious, and you’ll have to watch the scene to understand the duality.
Directed by Eric Appel, who co-wrote the script with Yankovic, the film is a parody-biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe as the titular protagonist. If you just go appearances, Yankovic and Radcliffe look nothing like each other, but the script needed an actor like Daniel to pull if off, not only is it the kind of goofy/eccentric role he is bound to shine in, but also the whole point of a parody is to not resemble reality. For example, in the movie, Yankovik dates ‘Like A Virgin’ singer Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood), while in reality they were barely acquaintances.
The film begins with a sliver of truth of how Weird Al started playing the accordion as a little boy. Richard Aaron Anderson is amusingly adorable as little Al, who loves wearing loud shirts and listening to Dr Demento, despite his strict father’s warnings against it. Older Yankovik isn’t much different and Daniel Radcliffe is just brilliant as the exaggerated version of the parody-song-king. He channels a strange energy and makes all the farcical stuff seem a lot more earnest than intended. Some of Yankovik’s biggest hits find their way into the script, from his first debut single ‘My Bologna’ a parody of ‘My Sharona’, to ‘Eat It’ a play on Micheal Jackson’s hit ‘Beat It’ and of-course ‘Like A Surgeon’ which is a funny as hell re-hash of Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’. Evan Rachel Wood makes a fine Madonna in the film, she is a hoot as a scheming seductress, but her sub-plot was a little overstretched.
A whole bunch of actors make little cameo appearances throughout the runtime. Rainn Wilson gets the most significant support role, he plays Dr Demento, Yankovik’s mentor/guide/best-friend in the movie. From a scared introverted little boy who’d hide in a closet to practice the accordion, Radcliffe’s Weird Al breaks out of his shell to taste phenomenal success in the music industry, making every artist hope he’d parody their track. But like every great biopic ever made, ‘Weird’ too has it’s share of conflicts (even if ridiculously fake) and then comes an unexpected climax – a comically tragic ending to close Al’s life.
I honestly hadn’t even heard any of Yankovik songs before watching the film and checked all the original parodies later, they are clever, entertaining and I am definitely a fan of the singer now! ‘Weird’ made me laugh out loud at the end of a very exhausting sucky day, so it’s a 8/10 from me.
You can stream ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ on Roku.
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