WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY: WHEN PARODY EXCEEDS ORIGINAL
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, may not be an entirely accurate representation of his life’s story but it is representative of who he is, a hilarious parody artist.
Released exclusively on Roku in September 2022, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, follows the life of Alfred Yankovic, a parody artist, commonly known as “Weird Al”.
The movie starts with his childhood, exploring the beginnings of his passion, the inspiration of his first song, all the way through to when he won one of his first awards.
The casting of the movie is brilliant. Yankovic is played by Daniel Radcliffe, most famous for his performance in the Harry Potter movies as Harry Potter. Yankovic’s mentor is played by Rainn Wilson, well known for his performance as Dwight Schrute in the TV show, The Office. With both of these actors playing two of the most iconic roles in very successful franchises, it might seem like their past roles would overshadow their performances in this movie. However, both actors perform so well, the audience forgets they ever played any other role prior to the movie’s release, especially Radcliffe, who has been pigeonholed as Harry Potter since the franchise’s beginning.
The camerawork in the movie is incredible, but what’s more noteworthy is the camera quality. The quality of the camera changes throughout Yankovic’s life, getting better as he gets older, as if the camera was adapting while he was. When news broadcasts about Yankovic are shown, they have the iconic fuzz of the CRT TV, with the matching audio quality to make the audience believe the news footage was actually shot in the 1980s.
The majority of events depicted in the movie are exaggerated and biased towards Yankovic’s perspective. However, this does not distract from the movie at all, and helps to build on the tone of the movie. It is even a nod to the opening speech of the movie, which states that life itself is like a parody. The humor in these dramatized scenes is what brings unique emotions to the movie.
Yankovic has two scenes where he bonds with each of his parents, and in both scenes, a stranger is dying in the background. The deaths are played off as humorous, and play into the joke well, especially when Yankovic’s mother asks the dying man, in this case an accordion salesman, to be quiet, as she and her son are having a moment.
The comedy in the movie follows the style of a parody itself, taking scenes that should have been cliché and adding unexpected moments and punchlines to catch the viewer off-guard and make them laugh. In one scene, Yankovic is on the phone with his mother, who tells him that his father wants to tell Yankovic something, but it is hard for him to say. While the viewer may expect her to follow up with how much his father loves him, despite falling short of his high expectations, his mother instead tells Yankovic that his father says that he is “definitely not proud of [Yankovic].”
The humor is well thought out and placed in the right spaces in the movie to make sure that every joke lands. It's unlike more popular franchises that just throw incessant quips at the audience, hoping that one of them lands. Though there is a lot of humor in the movie, it’s never cheesy quips, and it never gets tiring to sit through. Some jokes are placed in scenes that, while subverting the cliché, are still emotional, but even in those scenes, they don’t interrupt the natural emotional flow of the story.
The music in the movie is incredible, boasting both an original score, as well as new covers of some of Yankovic’s greatest hits, such as My Bologna, Another One Rides the Bus, and Amish Paradise. The sometimes overdramatic score is wonderfully composed and also adds to the humor of the scenes. The over-dramatic songs accompany emotional scenes presented humorously, such as the one with Yankovic being rushed into the hospital, waking up, and demanding a pen and paper to write down his inspiration.
Despite its humorous tone, the film manages to have the same subtle foreshadowing and symbolism audiences would expect to see in a serious Hollywood movie. For example, in a scene shortly after Yankovic meets the love interest, Madonna, the two are enjoying an intimate moment in the hallway full of pictures of Yankovic’s albums, when they knock over a statue of him. The camera slowly zooms in on the pieces, while a dramatic tone plays, symbolizing the effect the relationship will have on Yankovic and his career. Nothing about the movie’s humor detracts from the story it wants to tell, and only works to enhance the life of the beloved parody writer.
Overall, the movie is a wonderfully hilarious masterpiece that details Yankovic’s brilliance and masterpiece of his songwriting and storytelling. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a must watch for any fan of humor, music, or Yankovic himself.