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Weird Al tries pretentious melodrama in Oscar frontrunner

Daniel Radcliffe portrays musical legend "Weird Al" Yankovic in a new biopic exclusive to Roku TV. That's right, Roku is making movies now.
Daniel Radcliffe portrays musical legend "Weird Al" Yankovic in a new biopic exclusive to Roku TV. That's right, Roku is making movies now.

“Weird Al” was the first artist I ever knew.

I started listening to him as a child. In the era of CDs, my family had nearly every one of his.

Perhaps this makes me the most-biased person to review his new film or the most-fitting person to review his newest film, but in either case, I loved “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”

The film, inspired by a Funny Or Die sketch, depicts the rise to fame of Alfred Yankovic, who goes by his better-known stage name, Weird Al.

Like most biopics, “Weird” takes many leniencies in the actual history of the artist to tell its story.

Unlike most biopics, none of “Weird” is true. In fact, Eric Appel, director of the film, said no research was done on Weird Al’s life for the film’s story. 

The film works as more of a parody of biopics rather than an actual biopic, following in the footsteps of other comedy films about artists such as the Lonely Island’s brilliantly underrated “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.” This makes sense, as Yankovic is known for making parodies of popular songs.

To accomplish this parody, Yankovic, who served as a producer on the film, abandons his typical family-friendly nature to portray himself as a rebellious artist like the legends seen in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman.” In the alternate world Yankovic has constructed for the film, polka, another common genre he performs, is treated as the devil’s music, leading to sex and alcohol.

Yankovic used his star power to acquire a great cast for this movie. The highlight is Daniel Radcliffe, who portrays Yankovic. Rainn Wilson plays Dr. Demento, the radio host who helped Yankovic become a viral sensation, and Evan Rachel Wood plays Madonna, who in this film becomes Yankovic’s manipulative singer-girlfriend.

Other friends of Yankovic appear as cameos in the film, including Patton Oswalt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Scott Aukerman and Thomas Lennon. One scene, at a party hosted by Dr. Demento, has one of the largest numbers of cameos of any film, with many comedians playing famous artists.

Unfortunately, if you were hoping Radcliffe would sing in this film, you’ll be disappointed. Yankovic does all the singing for this film, remastering most of the songs used for this film and even creating a new original song.

Because comedy can have vastly different effects on people, “Weird” might not be for everyone. It might not have the wittiest comedy, but it more than makes up for it with over-the-top, opposite-to-reality type comedy.

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The film isn’t strictly focused on just these jokes either. Two fight scenes are thrown in, seemingly for no reason except being awesome.

The fun doesn’t stop when the story ends either. “Weird” features the funniest credits song since what the Lonely Island put together for “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

“Weird” adds to a list of quirky comedies Yankovic has made, preceded by “UHF,” a TV movie about a down-on-his-luck television station owner, and “The Compleat Al,” a mockumentary that incorporates Yankovic’s music videos into his life story, much like “Weird” does. Where “Weird” differs is in the fact that it will not just be a cult film, and for good reason considering it is quite excellent.

If you’re looking to watch the film, you won’t find it at the local theater, unfortunately. You’ll need a Roku device because this film is a Roku original, adding to a list of films stolen from a dead streaming service’s grave — RIP, Quibi

It’s hard to tell why Quibi decided to fund this bizarre movie to help launch its streaming service, but it’s a choice that will pay off. It’s free as long as you have a Roku, but I hope it gets a physical release for those who don’t. 

I would have loved to see it in a theater for the experience of laughing along with other audience members, but I’ll accept that I should just be grateful to get a Weird Al parody biopic.

Rating: 8.5/10

@lukejmacy

macylj@miamioh.edu

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