Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

“Weird Al” Yankovic is nothing if not self-aware. “It’s odd to be like a footnote in musical history,” he opined in 2019. “Like you pick up a Kurt Cobain biography, and you’ll look in the index, and there I am.” Yankovic was referencing “Smells Like Nirvana,” which was his spoof of that band’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit. His parodies of famous songs have sold millions, so some would argue he’s more than a footnote. “Eat It” and “White & Nerdy” were massive hits. His discography includes four gold albums and six platinum. He’s even earned five Grammy Awards. Some of the most celebrated artists of rock and roll can’t boast those statistics.

Yet given the comedy genre in which he works, “Weird Al” has always preferred jokes over great art, and that’s precisely the spirit in which this so-called memoir is presented. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a satire of the biopic genre. As such, it has more in common with This Is Spinal Tap or Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Even then, it falls far short of the high bar set by those films. For one thing, it would help if there was more than a kernel of truth. The events depicted here bear little resemblance to anything he actually did.

There is one laugh-out-loud sequence. It occurs about 30 minutes in. Radio broadcaster Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) takes “Weird Al” (Daniel Radcliffe) under his wing and offers him an opportunity for success. At his pool party, Demento introduces Al to various celebrities. It’s an incongruous gathering of eclectic individuals that includes Andy Warhol (Conan O’Brien), Tiny Tim (Demetri Martin), Pee Wee Herman (Jorma Taccone), Salvador Dali (Emo Philips), Divine (Nina West), Alice Cooper (Akiva Schaffer) and Gallagher (Paul F. Tompkins). Unconvinced of his talent, Wolfman Jack (Jack Black) dares him to come up with a new parody song right there on the spot. Someone shouts out, “Another One Bites the Dust” as a suggestion. Turns out it’s John Deacon (David Dastmalchian), the bassist for Queen. The fact that no one at the party has ever heard of him is a hoot.

The rest of the movie isn’t as inspired. The narrative follows the same formulaic beats of a music documentary but with all sorts of random feats the man never accomplished. His debut album goes quintuple platinum. He gains fans worldwide, including talk show host Oprah Winfrey (Quinta Brunson) and drug lord Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro). Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a mishmash of developments so far-fetched that this could have been fabricated around any celebrity. In an extended tangent, Al has a torrid affair with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood). Their relationship would make this a better biography about, say, Vanilla Ice — a singer that did, in fact, date Madonna. A kidnapping plot involving the “Material Girl” grows tiresome. The point is the whole thing is a complete joke. By the end, the chronicle descends into a Jim Morrison-esque fall from grace. It’s so stridently relentless in attempting to be funny…it isn’t. I give this movie the same response “Weird Al” offers after John Deacon invites Al to perform with Queen on stage at Live Aid: “Hard pass!”

11-05-22

2 Responses to “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”

  1. How could a movie about Weird Al be bad. He was a silly guy with fun parodies. Well, it was pretty awful. I was hopeful during the pool party. That was funny. Too bad it just fell flat from there. 2 1/2 ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

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