As a part of our protection of the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival, Meg Shields critiques Eric Appels directorial characteristic debut, ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Evan Rachel Wood. Follow together with extra protection in our Toronto International Film Festival archives.
Its not clear which angel (or demon) is accountable, however between Elvis and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, 2022 is de facto shaping up as one heck of a yr for music biopics. And whereas the latter doesnt attain the euphoric heights of the previous (few issues can, at this level), Weird nonetheless succeeds in delivering a heaping charcuterie board of crowd-pleasing cheese. But whether or not or not thats what the Doctor Demento ordered will largely rely on how a lot you like enjoying one-hit wonders on repeat again and again.
Surprising no person, a movie concerning the lifetime of the preeminent parody artist is extraordinarily, extraordinarily goofy. A send-up each of the music biopic style and its personal topic, Weird approaches the broad stroke chapters of Alfred Matthew Yankovics life with the identical reverence and respect its titular artist approaches chart-topping singles. The reality is there, type of. But it’s all a lot, a lot sillier.
Thanks to the efforts of an enterprising touring salesman, little Alfie comes into possession of the satan’s squeezebox that units him on the trail to worldwide superstardom. After years spent as a closeted accordion participant, Al (Daniel Radcliffe) is shocked when his musical abilities blow his classmates socks off at an underground polka occasion. Maybe he ought to give this entire being a musician factor a shot, huh? Some unbelievable lightning strikes of inspiration and one well-timed bologna sandwich later, Al and his band catch the attention of a native novelty radio DJ (Rainn Wilson because the Monopoly Man as Doctor Demento), who’s eager to assist Al capitalize on his area of interest of taking pre-existing songs and altering the lyrics to be method, method sillier.
Before you’ll be able to say, oh wow, a full-size reproduction of Weird Al as Louis XIV, Weird Al finds that fame and fortune don’t make up for a childhood of parental neglect. Meanwhile, determined for the much-coveted Weird Al bump in gross sales, a succubus-like Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) enters the image to stir the pot.
Directed by Eric Appel, Weird advantages significantly from the person of the hour himself, who acts each as a producer and a co-writer alongside Appel (Weird Al additionally reveals up in a supporting function the place his lack of a curly mop actually makes him arduous to clock at first, so I wont spoil it right here). Indeed, partly due to its origins as a Funny or Die sketch and its standing as a mockery of the type of motion pictures that relish superstar walk-ons, Weird is completely suffering from cameos. And aside from an early jumpscare from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Weird largely will get away with gratuitous cameo homicide. Namely, as a result of having a comically continuous parade of comedy individuals (Jack Black! Scott Aukerman! Nina West!) present up as off-brand weirdos from popular culture historical past is a bit unto itself.
Pacing-wise, Weird very a lot performs like a movie with two distinct halves: with the primary act dedicated to a rather more low-key story about how clearly superior Weird Al is as a result of, not in spite, of his quirks. In its latter half, after Weird Al has struck gold (and platinum), the movie explicitly pokes enjoyable at Oscar-baiting music biopics (you understand, your Judys and your Bohemian Rhapsodys). As youd anticipate from Yankovic, Weird hits all of the style’s tropes with ease: Al is determined for the approval his mother and father by no means gave him; Al nosedives into narcotics with the assistance of his parasitic girlfriend; Al pushes away the individuals who care about him solely to, finally, come crawling again after seeing the error of his methods. You know the drill.
Weirds send-up of music biopics is formally wonderful arguably to its detriment. A famously likable and family-friendly individual like Weird Al torpedoing their profession is a humorous gag in a three-minute Funny or Die sketch. But devoting 45-minutes to the bit of constructing somebody we love actually unlikable turns into tiresome and admittedly unfun after a whereas.
This is a disgrace as a result of Daniel Radcliffes dedication to being a little weirdo is definitely one of many movies greatest boons. And when the specificity of him being Weird Al fades away into music man who’s imply as a result of fame is tough, the enjoyment of watching him on display begins to fade. When hes enjoying an exaggerated model of Weird Al, Radcliffe is a real delight to observe. When the movie makes him do a drunken, hate-filled, shirtless rant, its humorous for, like, 5 seconds, after which it begins to really feel such as you’re really simply watching The Doors.
Does Weird say something new, satirically, that Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story didnt say 15 years in the past? No. But in the event you meet Weird on its personal goofy phrases as a feature-length model of a Funny or Die sketch with one joke, youre certain to have a chuckle or two.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story shall be streaming at no cost on the Roku Channel as of November 4th, 2022. You can try the trailer here.
Related Topics: Comedy, Daniel Radcliffe, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)