Daniel Radcliffe plays Weird Al Yankovic in this unconventional, occasionally hilarious biopic, directed by Eric Appel.
It feels like Weird Al Yankovic was part of everyone’s childhood. Who hasn’t had a good giggle at his hilarious parody songs? ‘Yoda’, ‘Amish Paradise’, ‘Eat It’, the list of iconic songs that created the soundtrack to my childhood seems endless. It was so effortlessly cool and funny, what a musical maestro he was.
Obviously, a biopic was only a question of time and that time has now arrived. Directed by Eric Appel, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a delightfully weird and funny biopic but it also feels frustratingly surface-level.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Al, a boy and later man deeply in love with music and making up his own songs. His family encourages Al to just be normal, but Al is relentlessly weird.
Inspiration hits almost by accident as ‘My Sharona’ comes on on the radio and Al’s mate mentions bologna. Al becomes a huge celebrity almost overnight, but some people are looking to benefit from his genius.
Weird does a lot of things right. It successfully and appropriately parodies biopics while telling its own story. It’s just a shame that the real, quite inspiring story gets lost amongst all the jokes and made up stuff.
Evan Rachel Wood plays Madonna, who almost becomes the film’s villain as the two strike up a steamy love affair. Weird Al did indeed parody Madonna’s song ‘Like A Virgin’, making it into ‘Like A Surgeon’, but the two most certainly never dated. The two never even met!
Making Madonna into the film’s villain seems like a strange move. Wood has tons of fun with the role, playing a much more excessive version of Madonna, really capturing the singer’s sexiness and playfulness. But that sexiness feels integral to her being the villain of the story, reducing Madonna to a man-eating starlet.
Radcliffe provides an equally committed performance as Al. The Harry Potter actor once again proves he’s a chameleon performer, able to disappear into any role, no matter how weird it might be. So far, he’s played a wizard, farting corpse, a skinhead and poet Allen Ginsberg. There’s a fearlessness and a refusal to conform in his choices and Weird definitely continues his fascinating career path.
Weird is unashamedly… well, weird, which is by far its biggest asset. It’s confident, but never arrogant or uninviting, but at times, Weird feels more like a SNL sketch than a full-blown film of its own. Al becomes a mythical superhero, but I’m not really interested in that. I’m interested in the gentle, creative boy we meet at the very beginning, but he gets lost in the spectacle.
Weird is never quite as good as it wants to be. It has its moments, but it lacks something to grip onto. The emotional beats – Al’s relationship with his dad especially – don’t land because the overall tone leans so heavily on ridiculousness. Famous faces pop in and out of the film without leaving much of an impression, but thankfully, Radcliffe and Wood provide such fun, relaxed performances and Weird Al songs still get your foot tapping that you’re guaranteed to enjoy this wild ride of a film.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ will stream on The Roku Channel from 4 November