In 2010, director Eric Appel and humor website Funny or Die released a trailer that was supposed to be nothing more than a joke. But, as we’ve seen in the past, sometimes jokes take on a life of their own. The existence of the Roku Original Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is the latest example of such dreams taking flight, and it’s a star-studded, joke-fueled thing of beauty. Part of the reason the 2022 movie release works so well is because the parody biopic, co-written by Appel and Al Yankovic, has helped star Daniel Radcliffe reach new heights of unhinged lunacy.
Premiering last night as the opening selection of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness lineup, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story truly lived up to its name. The basic pitch hasn’t changed since the original Funny or Die short, and we see Radcliffe’s parody version of Weird Al embark on a rise to fame and a fall into hard living. It’s everything you’d expect from a standard biopic, but Daniel Radcliffe’s officially-sanctioned variation on the artist who gave us classics like “My Bologna,” “Eat It,” and “Amish Paradise” opens the door to all of the madness you could hope for.
The move to cast Radcliffe due to his mastery of the works of Tom Lehrer came at the right time too. While the world will always know Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, his resume as of late has been an effective progression into crazier and juicier roles. Racking up credits like Swiss Army Man, Guns Akimbo and even the surprise 2022 hit The Lost City has given the actor a chance to spread his wings with massively manic energy. For reference, Radcliffe has cited Weird as potentially being weirder than Swiss Army Man, and that’s a film where he plays a talking corpse that acts as a functional jet ski through intense farting.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story should go down as a landmark achievement in that respect, as Radcliffe’s jacked-up version of the accordion-playing genius crushes throughout. Not even the scene where Al and his band celebrate the instant success of “My Bologna” by trashing their apartment, and each other, pushes things into the realm of “too far.”
To dive too deeply into the cameos and jokes that are included in Weird is one of the greatest sins anyone could commit against this film. As the audience is shepherded through the wild ride that is “the untold truth” of Weird Al’s musical dynasty, there are tons of surprises and comedic tomfoolery included in the proceedings.
Throughout it all, Daniel Radcliffe commits to the bit 100%, keeping in step with all of the madness that Al and Eric Appel can throw at the cast. Should you really want a taste of the goods before heading into Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, take a look at the trailer provided below:
Radcliffe also finds an equally unhinged persona in Evan Rachel Wood’s fabricated version of Madonna, the woman who could destroy Al in the height of his prime. Scenes of the two engaging in various romantic trysts are treated as seriously as you’d think, with both Wood and Daniel Radcliffe feeding each other’s efforts like true champions. Weird only works as well as it does because everyone buys into the Looney Tunes-style antics that are woven throughout. If you’re sold on Daniel Radcliffe’s Al, prepare yourself for what Evan Rachel Wood’s spot-on Madonna impression contributes to this movie.
The best way to sum up Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is that it’s the version of Walk The Line that would have probably been turned in by the Zucker Brothers. It’s a special brand of madness that harkens back to the manic days of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, where eagle-eyed or sharp-eared audiences will find something new to laugh about every time they watch it. What's even more exciting is the fact that Weird feels primed to be a new midnight movie success.
I can easily imagine people showing up to repertory screenings, reciting Daniel Radcliffe’s deadpan serious dialogue and singing along with Al Yankovic’s classic spoofs, on a weekly basis. That much was already proven last night, as a flash mob dressed as Weird Al appeared in front of the theater and performed a huge lip sync of “I Love Rocky Road.” As if that wasn't enough, the crowd's reaction to the movie sealed the deal, with plenty of clapping, singing and laughter punctuating its debut to the world.
This is a special brand of comedic madness you can’t easily replicate, and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story treats the man as seriously as he treats himself. For Daniel Radcliffe to nail that tone without breaking a sweat is an immense honor to watch, and it’s going to be insanely exciting to see new audiences discover this for themselves. By honoring that approach in his portrayal, Radcliffe puts a magnum cherry on top of this sundae that truly embodies everything Al Yankovic has been offering the world since day one. Through that lens, this is the most fitting biopic that could ever be made about his life and times.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is set to premiere on The Roku Channel on November 4th. While it’s set to make more screening appearances on the festival/convention circuit, I hope it’ll eventually land in those repertory screenings I was just dreaming about. Being able to see Daniel Radcliffe engage in egotistical debauchery and wanton displays of accordion prowess is something that really needs to be viewed with a crowd, especially after seeing how much firepower he packs into that very lunacy.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.