Are there other “Weird Al” Yankovic biopics? I don’t think there are. And I’m not going to look this up. But I’m just putting it out there and I don’t care who knows it: Weird: The Al Yankovic story is the greatest Weird Al movie ever made about his life. (This hyperbolic statement with no real meaning is not a direct comparison to UHF, a movie starring Weird Al, but not about Weird Al’s life.)
Daniel Radcliffe plays the title role of “Weird Al” Yankovic, a man who, according to this movie, achieved fame and fortune as an accordion player who changes the lyrics of popular songs to topics that a lot of the time involves food. Later he will become an international assassin and one-man wrecking crew that involves Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. Look, there are always some narrative liberties taken for the sake of making a better story and, I’m not totally positive, but I think that’s what happened here. I have a hard time believing “Weird Al” Yankovic killed 10 men with his bare hands, but this movie claims he did. And until I can confirm this didn’t happen, I’ll just have to take this movie’s word for it.
In all honesty, I do love Weird Al and, for someone out there who is not a fan, I’m really not sure what they might think of a movie where Weird Al is on a hallucinogenic LSD trip through literal hell and comes up with the lyrics for “Eat It.”
(Speaking of “Eat It,” I will in no way claim I was a fan of Weird Al before this song came out. I was not a cool enough eight-year-old to be listening to Dr. Demento. Until I was seven, my dad had me on a steady diet of Jerry Reed and Lee Greenwood. Also, it’s truly remarkable how big “Eat It” was. There was a few months’ period when the opening riff would start and I had to wait until the lyrics started to know if it was “Beat It” or “Eat It.”)
Eric Appel’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story borrows from the Walk Hard template of using biopic tropes and turning them on their head. Only Weird is much more, well, weird because it’s co-written by Weird Al.
I have a feeling Weird: The Al Yankovic Story will get compared to, and held to the standard of Walk Hard. That’s unfair for a couple of reasons. First, just because Airplane! is amazing and changed comedy for a decade didn’t mean Top Secret! and The Naked Gun (a movie Weird Al is in) aren’t great. (As an aside, I also love Airplane 2: The Sequel.)
Second, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story isn’t trying to be Walk Hard, strangely. It’s trying to be a movie co-written by “Weird Al” Yankovic and there’s just a certain THING about his comedy that’s hard to pinpoint but it’s actually weird, not “oh, this is the epitome of comedic genius.” Anyone who has seen UHF knows what I’m talking about. It’s not always supposed to be smart. He’s not “Smart Al” Yankovic. (For the record: He is a smart human being.) It’s supposed to be weird. And it is. And sometimes “weird” doesn’t work for everyone. Some of Weird Al’s humor (specifically his movies) throws a lot at the wall and see what sticks.
Anyway, whatever, maybe all of this is a long way of saying I loved Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. After our Toronto International Film Festival screening, I got a lot of “that seems like very much a Mike movie.” And I couldn’t tell if that meant the people I heard that from liked it or not? I am pretty sure they did. At least I choose to believe I am not alone in my love for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. In my mind , this will win the Oscar for Best Picture and Daniel Radcliffe will win Best Actor. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, will win more Oscars than Titanic. Long live Weird Al Yankovic. And I’ve fully decided to believe he killed 10 trained assassins with his bare hands. I have no doubt he did.
(Though, please do not ask me how to watch it. For the life of me I don’t know. This is a Roku movie and I do not own a Roku. I wish all of you the best of luck figuring this out. This is between you and your god.)
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.