Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Review

PLOT: The life of “Weird Al” Yankovic…if it were a complete and utter fabrication.

REVIEW: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is for hardcore “Weird Al” Yankovic fans. Suppose you’re not devoted to his particular brand of silly. In that case, you won’t get why this movie sold out its Midnight Madness premiere screening and had usually jaded critics scrambling to squeeze into its one and only TIFF press screening. For us misfits, Al is a big part of our lives. For his long-awaited biopic, Yankovic, who co-wrote and produced the movie, has done to the big-screen genre the same thing he does with every song he satires. He kept the best parts and injected it with a whole lot of silly. If it’s similar to anything that’s come before it, I would compare it to the underrated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, albeit done on a fraction of the budget (it is a Roku Original, after all). While uneven, it’s often quite funny and has more than enough laughs jammed into the film to make fans feel Hollywood has finally done right by Weird Al.

Of course, being a Weird Al movie through and through, don’t expect anything remotely based in reality to show up. The film spoofs all of the biopic standards, from the strict, unloving dad (the great Toby Huss) and doting mom (the always lovely Julianne Nicholson), to hooking up with the wise mentor (Rainn Wilson’s Dr. Demento), through his battles with the bottle and eventual blood-soaked rampage through Columbia to face-off with Pablo Escobar. See what I mean about made up? I don’t know what’s harder to believe – that Weird Al ever drank or the fact that he had a shootout with Pablo Escobar over Madonna.

weird al yankovic story

Oddly enough, the movie is at its best when it’s lower key, with the early teen years featuring a memorable scene where the young Weird Al gets busted for being at a Polka Party. The bits where he comes up with “My Bologna” and “Another One Rides the Bus” (on a dare from Jack Black’s Wolfman Jack and David Dastmalchian’s John Deacon) are some of the funniest bits in the movie. The legions of cameos prove just how beloved Yankovic is, with a who’s who of the comedy world showing up.

Daniel Radcliffe pours his heart into playing Yankovic, sporting a shredded physique that nods at how incredibly buff actors often play famously non-buff singers. Al himself does all of the singing, but Radcliffe has an innocence about him that makes him a conniving Weird Al. Evan Rachel Wood is also really funny as the movie’s version of Madonna, who’s portrayed here as a femme fatale out to suck the life out of Al, with the payoff to her arc being one of the funniest things in the movie. There’s a central joke surrounding the writing of “Eat It” that takes the film in another direction that I won’t spoil but suffice to say, the hilarity of the first act starts to lag a bit in the middle. There’s a too-long LSD hallucination that’s too much like similar scenes we’ve seen done over and over, and the action-movie showdown in Columbia, while funny, goes on a little too long and is awfully reminiscent of the recent Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

However, it should be said that the movie is a bit like Al’s music in the way that not every joke lands, but when they do, they’re so funny they make up for the ones that don’t. Al is famously clean-cut, meaning the movie has very little in the way of blue humor, but one of his strengths has always been that he doesn’t have to be lewd to land a laugh. Instead, he’s clever. Al himself has a cameo as one of the Scotti Brothers, based on his long-time label. Director Eric Appel, one of the main guys at Funny or Die (who made the film), made his feature debut and co-wrote the movie with Al. He also wrote and directed the short film this is based on and clearly has a deep love for all things Weird Al.

In the end, non Weird Al fans may not get the joke, but if you love the man and his music, this is a lot of fun. While I would have loved to see more spoof videos (how can you do a Weird Al movie and barely show any of the videos?) or for them to tackle UHF, I still laughed more often than not and will probably check this out again when it hits streaming.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.