The “Weird Al” Movie is the Perfect Response to Music Biopics


Courtesy of Funny or Die

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” delivers a fictionalized story about “Weird Al” that makes fun of music biopics.

Ian Lloyd, Staff Writer

“Weird Al” Yankovic has been around for nearly 40 years, making music for weirdos and geeks. His music was a beacon of silly fun unlike anything else in the music industry. The mixture of polka influence and clever writing made for entertaining, jokey songs that never got old. 

In recent years, biographical films (biopics for short) centering around iconic musicians have surged in popularity with movies like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocket Man,” but it was still surprising when it was announced this rather niche pop icon known for a comedic musical career would be getting his own.

Young Alfred Yankovic grew up being criticized by his parents for wanting to play the accordion and change the lyrics to pre-existing songs. After leaving home, he started his musical career, finding nearly immediate success after releasing his single, “My Bologna.” With his newfound fame from making parody songs, “Weird Al” Yankovic was on top of the world. If you have seen a music biopic before, you can already guess how this plot plays out.

Daniel Radcliffe plays the iconic “Weird Al” perfectly for the film’s tone. (Courtesy of Funny or Die)

Music biopics have notoriously used the same basic formula to tell the life story of famous musicians for the last two decades. A young kid shows an immense amount of talent, which leads to finding the origin of their first major hit. Then comes a downward spiral involving drug abuse, infidelity and a breakup with the people closest to them. After that low point is a reunion and one last final show to end the film on. So for a biopic centered around a musician who made a career out of parodies of popular songs, it’s only natural this new film would follow suit.

Just like “Walk Hard: The Story of Dewey Cox” did back in 2007, this film consistently makes fun of the tropes that plague movies about musicians. This lack of creativity that molds iconic figures of music history into a cookie-cutter format is exactly what helps elevate “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” into something great. The whole joke of this film is that forcing a unique musician into this format of storytelling rips away nearly everything that was real about their career.

Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as this version of “Weird Al.” His take on the character is completely removed from reality, as a fill-in-the-blanks rockstar character who becomes corrupted by fame. It’s a perfect fit for the film, and Radcliffe is able to pull off the subtle comedic moments gracefully.

The film often becomes absurd and revels in the silliness of its story. (Courtesy of Funny or Die)

The film does suffer from a few pacing issues. After an hour, the joke starts to lose some steam, and it begins to feel repetitive. It starts to get trapped in the same problems that plagued the films it’s making fun of. Overall, the movie could have cut out about 10 minutes to make a much tighter experience.

Even with these issues, the film ends on such a high note with perhaps the best gag for the entire runtime.

This movie excels as a commentary on this format of filmmaking and, more impressively, what makes “Weird Al” so special in the first place. The lyrics to his music are largely about consumerism and enjoying the things we watch or listen to. His first film, “UHF” adapted these themes into parodies of popular films and gags about local television programs. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” does the same thing, but with biopics and films we love. It’s a celebration of music and enjoying goofy things that don’t make any sense.

If you have ever been a fan of “Weird Al” Yankovic, you should check out this film. It brought back that child in me who would listen to his greatest hits album on loop during my middle school era. It’s a silly film that has fun playing with the expectations of the audience and is delightful in its weirdness. This modern pastiche of the music biopic gets a seven out of 10.