Daniel Radcliffe 10000% commits to Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

There’s a team on the ground at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival reporting on horror, comedy, drama and action films meant to dominate the cinematic conversation as we head into awards season. This review was published in conjunction with the film’s TIFF premiere.

For nearly five decades now, one person has defined what parody music looks like at its best. His subjects range from pop icons such as Madonna and Michael Jackson to rock and hip-hop creators such as Joan Jett and Coolio. He is not known as much by his name as by his chosen title: “Weird Al” Yankovic.

first words spoken in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story In the form of sarcasm are: “Life is like a parody of your favorite songs,” nod Forrest GumpThe iconic “box of chocolates” line. Every single beat of Eric Appel’s feature film in his Funny or Die short is the target of the same name. Why wouldn’t a biopic of a parody artist’s life be a parody in itself? Accordingly, Weird Relentless about poke fun at practically every topic he touches on. Co-written by Appel and Yankovic themselves, the film embraces and obliterates the history of music as well as most of the musical biopics that came before it. It is an attack of humor, using each scene as an excuse to deliver one or more jokes – usually a very More. Like Appel’s original Fox-trailer short, the feature rewrites Yankovic’s life by creating a strange amalgamation of reality and fiction.


Image: Roku Channel

Weird Beginning at the wrong end of Yankovic’s life, a hospital death scene quickly unfolds as a fake-out and setup for a long history. Appel and Yankovic (played in the film by Harry Potter series star Daniel Radcliffe) take their sweet time moving through the kind of moments that musical biopics are known for: childhood trauma and fractured parents. The father’s relationship rises to meteoric fame and sudden shocking collaborations, a tender mentorship and a heartbreaking descent into the worlds of drugs, sex and alcohol. One of the film’s greatest strengths is the way it combines these false scenarios with Strange Al’s true history, forcing viewers to constantly question what the reality within fiction really means. Is.

Accuracy has become the definitive measure of how contemporary biopics are judged, but Appel and Yankovic question that concept. Some filmmakers choose to sacrifice history in favor of a clean, accessible product, usually at the request of the cast, or those managing their image. ,Bohemian Rhapsody A prime example.) Other filmmakers aim for something closer to an honest version of reality, such as Bertrand Bonello. Saint Laurent, Unlike Jalil Lespert’s “Approved” yves saint laurent, Or they adopt fantasy and allegory to paint a larger portrait of an artist like Todd Haynes’ brilliant i’m not there,

However, even in documentary pictures, packing life into a few hours produces an obvious, unquestionable lie. And the audience is seeing the artist only through the eyes of the story maker. That’s where Yankovic’s parody skills come in handy. He skillfully rewrites history to the point of such blatant lies that even viewers, who are barely aware of Yankovic’s true life story, can still recognize that he How to adapt it to your comic advantage.

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Photo: Aaron Epstein / Roku Chanel

The film moves comfortably between its three expected acts: Weird Al’s rise as a parody artist, despite a closed accordion-playing childhood; His downfall due to the influence of drugs, alcohol and Madonna; And the rehabilitation of their image after the demise of their relationship and the return to their past that brings true peace of mind and remission. Much of the film is blatantly untrue – the simplest bits of history are sometimes the most honest, the way in which Yankovic recorded his first song, “My Bologna,” in the university bathroom, as it featured Dr. There was good acoustics for the way Demento’s comedy was. -The music show brought Yankovic to national attention. Also, the film re-references her live productions, such as her “Like a Surgeon” performance which parodies Madonna. truth or Dare Performance of “Like a Virgin”

WeirdThe approach to music history transforms real events, both niche and explicit, into moments revolving around Yankovic in an openly ridiculous manner. Weird is Al, wearing six platinum records around his neck, getting the full treatment of Oprah interviews, as if his fame was once at that level. She’s being arrested for a public performance at Jim Morrison’s location in Miami, an incident involving Yankovic pulling out his accordion on stage instead of his genitals. (The film frames the accordion as obscene throughout the film, in which teenage Yankovic is caught by police while playing at a polka party.)

Pablo Escobar’s alleged interest in kidnapping Michael Jackson is turned into a subplot, where Escobar is instead obsessed with Yankovic, and kidnapping his in-film girlfriend Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood). Even one. is also Boogie NightsCelebrity-style backyard party that sees Elton John, Pee-wee Herman, Devo, Tiny Tim, Gallagher, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Wolfman Jack, John Deacon and Devine (among many others) together in the same room holds. Weird floored by the power of Al’s parody abilities.

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Image: Roku Channel

Its true turn from playful fictional to outright unhistorical comes with the framing of the song “Eat It” as an original song rather than a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, within minutes of both the audience and the record label making it “new”. The original “Al Yankovic song,” Jackson’s “Beat It” hit on the radio, dashes his dreams of being taken seriously as an original artist, and results in the world believing that his The song was always a parody.

It’s a simple story, reminiscent of Yankovic’s minor 30 Rock The cameo where Jenna Maroney attempted to write an “unparody-able” song failed the artist, resulting in a popular “serious” song instead. But the “Eat It” arc and its humor create an entirely new dramatic arc for the film. Yankovic’s commitment to his personality and brand is precisely what makes his screen performances throughout pop culture so enjoyable, even if they’re as simple as playing a plain, “not funny” version. work in progress, The actors in his biopic are equally committed to the straight-up stupidity that defines this film.

Seeing all the cameos (often from famous actors or comedians playing various celebrities) contributes to the film’s delight, but Daniel Radcliffe’s turn as Yankovic underpins the story. Maybe “grounded” is the wrong word for a film in which Werd Al meets Queen Elizabeth II (who died on the day of the film’s premiere at TIFF, resulting in a little uneasy, laughing at screenings) and The notion that the Weird al could replace Roger Moore as James Bond. But everything the film does well comes back to Radcliffe’s performance.

In lieu of live vocals or covers, the actor purposefully and frankly lip-syncs to the actual voice of the awkward Al, one of the many comic beats the film throws at Radcliffe, which skillfully nails him. It’s not exactly a great individual performance, but it perfectly captures the honesty that has earned many actors an Oscar award or nomination for telling and writing completely nonsensical storytelling. Even supporting performances, such as Wood’s comically villainous Madonna, Julian Nicholson’s occasionally biting but mostly Nick as Yankovic’s mother, Mary, and Toby Huss as Yankovic’s working-class father , who can’t stand music of that accord, all feel ideally calculated to fit what already exists. behind the Music the roles they are playing.

in a range where hard walk Often cited as the definitive work of musical-biopic parody – both an expert satire of previous films such as walk the Line And RayAnd hints of more to come with movies like Bohemian Rhapsody, rocket Man, and even inspired by Baz Luhrmann elvis — It would be easy enough to dismiss Weird: The Al Yankovic Story As in nothing special. But Yankovic’s attention to detail and embrace of the absurd is precisely what makes the film so narcissistically engaging, even in the face of a script that sometimes feels like it’s just a smattering of gags. There is a loose structure to deliver the wave (not all of which will land for every spectator).

This parody is an extended work of art that’s actually funny, and an extended return to comedy from someone who is a master at it. In a world where the man hasn’t released an album in eight years, this cinematic ode to his distinctive brand of humour is very refreshing.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Will stream for free on the Roku channel from November 4.

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