Weird: The Al Yankovic Story: Review
Eccentric parody artist Al Yankovic, also known as Weird Al, receives the Hollywood biopic treatment in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Fitting to Weird Al's verbose history of bizarre yet creatively empowered parody songs, Weird presents itself as a clever subversion of the standard-issue biopic formula. The biopic genre is a treasured mainstay in the theatrical marketplace, often serving as a go-to staple during the competitive heat of Oscar season.
While the occasional inspired feature slips from the cracks, a majority of these films smugly vie for award consideration by embracing artificial histrionics and a general lack of understanding of their subject (don't get me started on the horrible "Bohemian Rhapsody" Queen movie). Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is well-aware of the biopic genre's long-entrenched tropes, utilizing the cliched formula as a basis for parody fitting to Weird Al's colorful personality.
The results showcase some blips of vitality. As a feature-film adaptation of a Funny or Die short sketch, Weird showers viewers with an array of over-the-top gags that could only be conjured by Weird Al himself, who co-wrote the film alongside director Eric Appel. Fans of the musician's eclectic catalog will feel at home with Weird as the film traverses through a series of fictionalized chapters ranging from a budding romance with Madonna to even a bizarre escapade with drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Weird finds its stride when leaning into the lunacy of its subversive comedic flourishes. The film presents a finite understanding of how Hollywood contorts a real-life subject into the type of fictionalized mythmaking often associated with celebrity culture. In addition, star Daniel Radcliffe offers some of his finest work to date onscreen, embodying Al's singular presence with superb comedic timing. A slew of well-recognized star cameos also adds to the mania as the cast pops up in numerous creative ways.
Weird is consistently endearing, but the film eventually runs out of steam after a promising first act. The screenplay by Yankovic and Appel relies too heavily on their one-joke mockery of the biopic genre – an approach that already received imaginative exploration in the supremely underrated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Whereas Walk Hard continued to find ways to subvert expectations and incorporate a surprisingly poignant emotional undercurrent, "Weird" can often feel like an uneven mishmash of skits and ideas that desperately lacks cohesion.
The jokes themselves are also wildly inconsistent in terms of impact. Weird throws several ludicrous darts at the screen to shock and engage viewers, although some of the bits ultimately succumb from their desperate attempts to seem clever. The third act, in particular, drives off the rails as the film unsuccessfully tries to culminate its satirical approach with a comedic crescendo. Instead, this section presents a slew of inventive yet ineffective gags that ultimately drive the movie away from its worthwhile aspirations.
Mileage will vary with viewers, but I found Weird: The Al Yankovic Story to be a frenzied roller coaster ride of concepts that don't quite come together.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is now playing on Roku.