Film Review: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”


Contributed from: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”

Daniel Radcliffe stars in the exaggerated parody “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”. The film follows Yankovic as an aspiring accordion player who wants to break free from his factory job and sing.

Cassandra Bauer, Film Reviewer

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is the totally true and unexaggerated story of perhaps not technically the best but arguably the most famous accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music.

Many films about real people begin by telling us the story is based on true events, or that everything we are about to watch actually happened. This film is no different– this bold biopic opens with an introduction from the man himself telling the audience that what we are about to watch is the 100 percent true, not at all made-up story of his life. What follows is a 100 percent untrue and completely made-up story of his life. But that’s all part of the fun.

Just as all musical biopics do, “Weird” starts with Al as a child who seeks parental approval. He doesn’t quite fit in at home and his father disapproves of Al’s desire to sing songs with new lyrics and play the accordion, instead telling him to stop being who he is and encouraging him to work at the factory, where no one knows what they make. Al carries on without support from his family to follow his passion for parody songwriting. 

As a teenager, one of his songs is played on the Dr. Demento Radio Show, rapidly launching him into stardom. Dr. Demento, a popular comedy songwriter and radio host, takes Al under his wing and acts as a father figure, even granting him the iconic stage name “Weird Al Yankovic” (after deciding Al Yankovic is too long and clunky for a name).

After becoming somewhat of a celebrity, Weird Al is invited to an exclusive party of an eclectic group of famous persons including Andy Warhol, Alice Cooper, Salvador Dali, Pee Wee Herman, Elton John and ‘guy from Queen.’ At this party he is challenged to come up with a new parody song on the spot. In a moment of genius he sings “Another one rides the bus”, of course a parody of “Another One Bites the Dust”, which prompts ‘guy from Queen’ to beg Al to play at a little gig they have coming up: Live Aid. Each scene after this is more outrageous than the last, progressing to absolute absurdity.

“Weird” serves as a parody of the documentary genre while also being a tale of Weird Al’s life. Radcliffe impressively commits to the character, giving us a untamed version of Weird Al’s life as a rock and roller.
(Contributed from: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”)

Musical biopics have been done time and time again, and even the good ones fall victim to countless tropes of the genre. They all have disapproving parents, genius moments of songwriting, a rise to fame, drugs and alcohol addictions, scandalous love affairs and a come back. “Weird” does in fact have all of these elements, but does so in a way that pokes fun at the clichés. The film is very reminiscent of “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007), another film seeking to create a parody and a pastiche of the genre. The difference here is that “Weird” is both a parody of the genre and of Weird Al’s life.

Bringing the accordion player to the screen is none other than Daniel Radcliffe who sports the wild hair and Hawaiian shirts well. He impressively commits to the character, giving us a untamed version of Weird Al’s life as a rock and roller. Joining Radcliffe is Evan Rachel Wood, playing pop star Madonna and Weird Al’s dangerous love interest. Rounding out the cast is a slew of celebrity cameos including Lin Manuel Miranda, Jack Black, Conan O’Brien, Josh Groban, Will Forte and even Yankovic himself.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”, a zany biopic about our favorite accordion playing, polka loving, parody singer songwriter is an unmatched entry into the musical biopic genre that rises above the countless clichés. Its tone is perfectly complementary to Yankovic’s own personal style and brand of comedy.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is now streaming on Roku.