Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – Review

Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 47 minutes, Director – Eric Appel

A highly fictionalised account of the rise to fame and acclaim of Weird Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe).

It feels fitting that a biopic of the life of Weird Al Yankovic doesn’t really serve as a biopic at all. As many fans would perhaps hope for from the musician largely known for parody tracks such as Amish Paradise and Like A Surgeon this highly fictionalised account of his life story slips into the realms of parody very early on. Perhaps not to the genre-ruining effect of Walk Hard, but Weird takes a different stance to that particular modern cult comedy.

Diedrich Bader’s opening narration assures us that “life is like a parody of your favourite song. Just when you think you know all the words. Surprise, you don’t know anything”. It’s something that writers Yankovic and director Eric Appel try to run with in the various scenes and genre pastiches throughout the film. From an early childhood where music is shunned by his father (Toby Huss), there are serious consequences when a young Alfred (David Bloom) sneaks out one night and attends a polka party, to a fight scene in a diner with the cartel there are plenty of send-ups on display. While some may feel somewhat distanced in humour simply down to how serious in tone the scene appears – there’s often uncertain as to whether moments are aiming for straight seriousness or very dead-pan parody – there are still a handful of laughs to be had along the way.

Daniel Radcliffe plays the grown-up version of Yankovic. An aspiring accordion player with a talent for re-writing the words to other people’s songs. It’s not long until, after frequent airplay from Dr Demento (Rainn Wilson), he’s propelled to the heights of fame and constant acclaim as one of the greatest musicians to ever live. His parodies even lead to boosted sales for hit bands such as Queen, something which Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) wants in on, entering into a relationship with Al in the hope that he will make her an even bigger success with a parody of one of her songs.

Along the journey of rises and falls there are plenty of famous faces and cameos which pop up at various events – particularly at a pool party hosted by Demento. Such appearances capture aspects of the lighter, and definitely more absurdist elements of the film. It’s here that as a whole things appear to work best and provide the most amusement. It’s where the tone feels most clearly defined and certain of itself. Things move along well with the most chuckles, as is the case with most of the film, coming from quick lines of dialogue rather than drawn out ideas, although a one-off to developing gag about Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro) being a huge Weird Al fan does prove to be consistently amusing.

As a whole the film fills its 107 minute run-time rather well. While it might occasionally walk an uncertain line between seriousness and parody in general there’s plenty to enjoy throughout thanks to a fair share of chuckles. In fact, even with its sense of parody it manages to not overdo it on the songs, although there’s plenty to like about those that do crop up with their acknowledged sense of silliness, pushed by the fact that Radcliffe is clearly having a great time with the lead role. Barely any of it is true, it’s pretty obvious from some of the initial playful twisting, and in a number of ways a Weird Al ‘biopic’ is perhaps better for it. For the time it’s on it’s rather enjoyable stuff which embraces absurdism with a good deal of laughs along the way.

While clearly not taking itself too seriously Weird: The Al Yankovic does occasionally walk an uncertain line between seriousness and parody, but as a whole there’s plenty of chuckles along the way, particularly when clearly displaying a silliness which everyone involved seems to embrace.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: