Available to view on Roku enabled devices
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is one of those ridiculous fictional biographies to not take seriously. It’s a parody more than anything else, and it’s delightfully nutters when the humour gets cranked up to 12. If there’s any authenticity to who Alfred Matthew (played by Daniel Radcliffe) was before he found fame as a comedy genius, it’s probably in how much Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) is a huge influence. But even before he fell in love with that radio show, he had a talent that needed to be nurtured.
There are some seeds of sincerity here and there, but knowing facts from the heavily embellished moments requires memorizing everything revealed about the man in VH1’s Behind the Music profile. As that documentary revealed, the record label, the Scotti Brothers, took a chance on Al. They knew he had a subtle and understated style. They allowed him to not pull any punches.
Also, MTV helped catapult this comic musician to fame. Without those crazy music videos, I don’t think he’d be as famous as he is now. This detail isn’t explored in the film, and that’s surprising when considering how important it helped this musician’s career than the accordian. I imagine the real Weird Al and Eric Appel who co-wrote the screenplay together didn’t want to bog the story down, since it would have to mean recreating all those manic music video moments–something that an older Radcliffe may not be able to do.
Instead, what we get is a movie about the musician having daddy issues. It’s an important conflict to give the plot weight, and as the fictional Al loved his fame, that demon kept on forcing him to question if he’s truly happy with his life. Radcliffe gave his all to portray this Yankee as only an Brit can. The last time I laughed that hard was when he was Harry Potter in the sixth film, drank the Liquid Luck and knew nothing could go wrong. As he wandered from one situation to another with aplomb, that silly look is magnified in this work.
This talent shows that he can play nearly any character offered to him. From the Beast (Horns) to a Zombie (Swiss Army Man), I can’t think of what he hasn’t done. That James Bond style villain in The Lost City was more memorable than the movie, but to fully transform himself to Weird Al is not something any actor to lay claim to.
What makes this motion picture move so well is in how some songs are imagined having come to fruition. This flick is like Bohemian Rhapsody in that regard, where a riff or a moment helps Al get inspired. “My Bologna” is perhaps the weakest, but “Another One Rides the Bus” and “Like A Surgeon” are perhaps the most bonkers as how they got conceived were both spur of the moment. I’m glad we get more than a minute treat with each track. Even after watching this film, I’m ready to listen to his greatest hits just so I can end my day with a smile.
Perhaps the craziest bit is in how Al and Madonna continue to maintain their romance. Technically, that never happened in real life, and that story is defined in his interview with Men’s Health. The gonzo relationship they have goes left field more than once, and it’s led me to wonder if Al’s purposely drawing from what worked and not from UHF. This underappreciated and now cult movie deserves to be rewatched after this film. They may well complement each other in a crazy meta way.
The humour and style is a match and as for what scenes and cameos get used, well, spending a weird night with Al is needed. Hopefully, you won’t end up like Madonna in this fantasy movie.
4 Stars out of 5