Biography Comedy

Bohemian Parody: A TIFF Review of ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’

September 10, 2022Ben MK

The musical biopic genre has seen something of a resurgence during the past few years, with blockbuster, high-profile films like Elvis, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody bringing the dramatized, true life stories of legendary recording artists such as Elvis Presley, Elton John and Freddie Mercury to the big screen. When it comes to music icons, however, there has never been a talent quite like Weird Al Yankovic — a man who may not technically have earned the moniker of the best musician ever, but who arguable is the best, at least in his very specific category of music.

Enter Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a feel-good and laugh-out-loud movie that promises to fill that void for all Weird Al fans, by showing how a young boy with a love for polka music and a passion for playing the accordion grew up to be one of the world's most beloved celebrities, a bestselling music artist and a Grammy award-winner. Starring Daniel Radcliffe in the titular role, the film chronicles the pivotal events of Yankovic's life — sort of. From growing up in California under the roof of strict parents (Julianne Nicholson and Toby Huss) who forbade him to go to polka parties, to attending college, where he became an overnight success after being inspired by a package of lunchmeat, to dating Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) and rescuing her from the jungles of Colombia after she was kidnapped by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, director Eric Appel's feature debut basically leaves no stone unturned, as it charts the meteoric rise of everyone's favorite Hawaiian shirt-wearing parodist. But if you're expecting a conventional biopic that actually sheds some light on Yankovic's life, then you might want to check your expectations at the door, because this most certainly isn't the movie you think it is.

Whether it's the hilarious ways in which the film reinvents the origins of such classics as 'Another One Rides the Bus,' 'Eat It' and 'Amish Paradise,' or the side-splitting cameos from the likes of Patton Oswalt, Conan O'Brien and Jack Black, it's only fitting that Weird take a satirical approach to its subject matter, by following in the footsteps of such movies as Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and parodying the genre itself. After all, most biopics usually contain a healthy dose of fiction anyway. Weird just takes that to the extreme; and while the result may not be the best biopic ever, it definitely ranks among the best in this very specific — and farcical — sub-genre.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story screens under the Midnight Madness programme at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 48 min.

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