If you are looking for a straightforward, dramatic, and mostly factual recounting of the life of parody superstar Weird Al Yankovic then the movie Weird: The Al Yankovic Story on the Roku Channel is probably not for you. What begins as a seemingly normal biopic quickly devolves into a surreal parody of both musician biopics, chock-full of some of Weird Al’s greatest hits, and a twist ending that is definitely not based on reality.
Weird follows a mostly fictional version of the life of Alfred Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe), from his humble beginnings as the quirky son of a blue-collar factory worker to his discovery of his musical talent, partially helped by an accordion salesman in one of the film’s funnier scenes, to his seemingly over-night success and discovery by his mentor Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), to superstardom and dating Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) which leads to a dark turn and eventual reconciliation with plenty of cameos (including Jack Black as Wolfman Jack) and chances to hear Weird Al’s greatest hits in-between.
Instead of doing a typical by-the-numbers, Weird takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to what could have been just another standard musician biography like Rocketman or Bohemian Rhapsody, and it seems to work well for the movie and helps it standout and among the crowd. By the time his father nearly beats the accordion player to death, you realize the movie is there more to entertain than educate on the life and career of Weird Al Yankovic, which is probably a good thing. The liberties taken definitely add to the humor and allow for a fun-filled romp with just under a 2-hour runtime. Much like Weird Al’s song parodies themselves, it takes what you think you know and turns it on its head, including insinuating that the song “Eat it” came before Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” and that Weird Al and Madonna had a toxic love affair so she could use him to parody “Like a Virgin” with “Like a Surgeon.”
While Daniel Radcliffe manages to embody Weird Al fairly well. It’s Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna and Rainn Wilson who really stand out. Wood’s Madonna, in particular, serves as a great foil and eventual villain for Weird Al as he becomes a superstar. Outside of that, some of the cameos, such as Jack Black’s Wolfman Jack, feel unneeded, and while they lead to funny moments don’t add much to the overall movie. The semi-musical approach where Daniel Radcliffe lip-syncs some of Weird Al’s greatest hits serves to both move the story along and add some fun to the already vibrant movie.
If you’re just looking to see a typical recounting of Weird Al’s life from childhood to stardom to the present, Weird is probably not for you. But if you enjoy a surreal and fictional take on one of the most widely known parody artists in history, including a supporting role by Weird Al himself, that lampoons the self-important musical bio-pic in the same way Weird Al spoofs your favorite pops songs, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story may be for you.