#TIFF22: “WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY”
By David Baldwin
Al Yankovic’s (Daniel Radcliffe – yes, him) ambition in life is to make parody songs scored to the beat and style of existing hits. Fame will not come easy for Al though, and neither will the drugs, alcohol and excess that come with it.
If you know anything about Yankovic’s history as a performer, forget all of it before you sit down to watch WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY. Rather than being a conventional biopic that goes through the tumultuous ups and downs of a performer’s career, Co-Writer/Director Eric Appel and Yankovic himself turn the entire genre upside down and inject as much ridiculousness and timeline perversion into the Film as they could. It sends up every convention we know and understand from decades of biopics and exposes them for the by-the-numbers, stereotypically fluffy nonsense that we all know them to be. Others have already favourly compared the Film to the cult classic Walk Hard, yet WEIRD feels more disjointed, more outrageous and more weird than it does anything else.
How else to explain Al needing to rescue his girlfriend Madonna (an uproarious Evan Rachel Wood) from Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro)? Or Michael Jackson copying the beat from Yankovic’s “Eat It” when he wrote and recorded “Beat It”, rather than the other way around? Or well, just about anything else that happens in this outrageous movie?
I laughed as hard as I could throughout WEIRD, even if the seams of the Film being based off a three-minute fake trailer sketch start showing far too early. There are some incredible cameos and sight gags littered throughout, and this is easily (though you might not believe me) Radcliffe’s best performance this side of Harry Potter. He commits willingly to every outlandish thing Appel and Yankovic throw at him, commands the screen at every turn and does an incredible job depicting the Hard Rock lifestyle the Film purports actually happened to the real Weird Al. Hysterical stuff. And God willing, Yankovic himself will be nominated for an Oscar for that end credits song that is…brilliant?
WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY screens as follows at TIFF ’22:
Thu, Sep 8 IN-PERSON Royal Alexandra Theatre 11:59pm
Fri, Sep 9 IN-PERSON TIFF Bell Lightbox 12:15pm
Sun, Sep 18 IN-PERSON TIFF Bell Lightbox 9:00am