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Film Review: ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ is a Riot of a Musical Biopic Parody


Musical biopics are Oscar catnip, we know this. They also can be moving and engaging at their best, but cloying and derivative at their worst. Recently, there’s been no shortage of them, too, with Bohemian Rhapsody, Elvis, Respect, and Rocketman just a small sampling. As such, there’s very fertile ground for parody, which Weird: The Al Yankovic Story dives headfirst into. Instead of actually being a biopic of parody musician ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic, it’s a sendup of everything that the musical biopic leans into. While it’s primarily a really funny comedy, it also has the ability to take to task how the aforementioned films fudge the truth in order to boost their subject’s legend.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story parodies the genre in a way we haven’t seen executed this well since Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The movie has a boldness to how it just changes everything about Yankovic in order to prove its point. From start to finish, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the hutzpah it’s displaying. The flick goes for it, no question, and I love it for that.


A parody of the traditional musical biopic, this is the story of Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe) and how he became one of the most celebrated musicians of all time. Before the fame and fortune, he was just a kid, forbidden from playing the accordion or changing the lyrics to popular songs by his stern father Nick (Toby Huss). Nick wants Al to join him working at the factory (never saying what they make at said factory), but his mother Mary (Julianne Nicholson) secretly gets her son the musical instrument. When that secret is exposed in his teenage years, he leaves, seeking his true calling.

When Al starts writing songs and performing, he’s discovered and nurtured by Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), quickly becoming a massive star. Before long, he’s dating Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood), setting records, and even getting involved with Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro). By the end, he’ll have made his mark on the musical world, but not without a hit being taken out on him by none other than Madonna herself. What a life, indeed.


Daniel Radcliffe dives in whole hog to playing Weird Al. Having just as much fun is Evan Rachel Wood, going wild with her Madonna send up. Toby Huss shines as the gruff dad these movies require, while Julianne Nicholson is the kindly mother. Supporting players here feature many a cameo, including, but not limited to, Jack Black, Quinta Brunson, Will Forte, Thomas Lennon, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, and Akiva Schaffer (not to mention Yankovic), as well as the aforementioned Arturo Castro and Rainn Wilson.

Filmmaker Eric Appel, co-writing the script with Yankovic himself, really leans into the ridiculousness of it all. As such, his direction is broad, letting the jokes do a lot of the work. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is having a lot of fun with the premise, but also is sly enough to point out that other, more straight-laced, musical biopics pull a lot of the same tricks. It’s taken to the extreme here, but the comparisons are apt and only further prove its own point. Plus, it’s just a fun vehicle for some great Weird Al tunes.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story takes a sledgehammer to the musical biopic. In doing so, it’s not just a great parody, but one of the funniest films of the year. Affection for ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic isn’t necessary, but the more you like his music, the more you’ll like this movie. In my humble opinion, it’s an absolute laugh riot.

SCORE: ★★★1/2


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Written by Joey Magidson

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