- Gareth Crook
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022) - 8/10
I went to see Weird Al Yankovic the other night. Way out of my comfort zone to be honest, I probably should’ve watched this first. I’m not saying this is the definitive story, but Al seemed happy speaking about it before introducing ‘Albuquerque’, so I’m gonna assume it’s close. We meet young Al, being belittled by his one handed, factory working, accordion salesman assaulting father (Toby Huss). He doesn’t understand Al’s already burgeoning love of parody songs. This cruel start is shot through with dry humour though, as his mother (Julianne Nicholson) says “We think you should stop being who you are and doing the things you love”. She’s a bit more understanding, keeping an oddly acquired accordion a secret. Until things get out of hand at a polka party and young Al squares up to his dad declaring “One day I’m gonna be arguably the most famous accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music! After a bit more comically gruff narration, we meet grown up Al (Daniel Radcliffe), failing to find a band and getting inspiration from a packet of bologna and his room mates who encourage him to do the things he wants… writing parody songs. This is quite honestly brilliant. It’s all tongue cheek, very funny, very humble, seriously though very very funny. “Dude I’ve got chills” is the response to the first song and I’m not far off. Everything’s coming up roses for Al, until the real Al makes an appearance as a record exec. and delivers a reality check… plus a bit of advice. Get in front of a crowd. Cue ‘I Love Rocky Road’ unifying a gnarled punk crowd. If you’re not punching the air with them, check your pulse. There’s a lot of faces here. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rainn Wilson, Michael McKean, Evan Rachel Wood, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, Will Forte, Jack Black and Emo Philips as Salvador Dali, half of whom show up at what must’ve been the coolest pool party in history, assuming it happened. Even John Deacon was there (the bass player in Queen). The whole scene is pure pleasure. Absolute genius. It’s almost as brilliant as the dysfunctional love affair with Al and Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood), which after some LCD loaded guac sends Al off on a wild ride, releasing him from the restraints of parody songs. He only wants to write original material, like ‘Eat It’ and he doesn’t want to be the new James Bond or have Led Zeppelin open for him. Al’s got some competition though from that kid who used to be in the Jackson 5, who comes out with his own parody. Radcliffe is brilliant. He’s made some interesting films since moving on from that kid with the glasses. Here though his performance behind Al’s glasses is better than you’d imagine for a gonzo comedy. You can’t take your eyes off him. Which is what he does drunk whilst lighting a cigarette on the highway at night and hitting a truck. This film has everything and just when you think you’ve got its number, it goes seriously loco!! Al gets lost as fame spirals out of control, “Was I a parody singer, an original artist, the most dangerous assassin in the world?”. Possibly the funniest and most accurate biopic ever made!