Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is opening TIFF’s Midnight Madness programming this year, and as of this moment, it is literally the only film I have locked into my TIFF schedule. Not even Glass Onion is locked in yet, but Weird? I know exactly when and where. I am VERY much looking forward to this film, in part out of love for Weird Al, whose parodies played on repeat in my house growing up (as did Al’s mentor Dr. Demento’s comedy songs), and in part out of my love for Daniel Radcliffe: Not-So-Secret Comedy King. I feel like Lost City awakened a lot of people to the reality that DanRad is an AMAZING comedic actor. Go watch Miracle Workers and prepare for Weird, which I hope cements DanRad as a go-to comedy guy for the next 40 years.
The official trailer for Weird dropped yesterday and it builds perfectly off the tone of the teaser. Like Walk Hard, Weird is a parody of music biopics, hitting all the music biopic cliches—Al’s parents don’t believe in him, the brilliant idea moment, the record label exec who thinks they can’t make it—played by Al Yankovic—backstage boozing, band breakups, an affair with a popstar, it’s all here. Also here: the perfect way Evan Rachel Wood intones “Madonna”, Julianne Nicholson’s straight face when she says, “Stop being who you are and doing the things you love,” and Toby Huss’s EVEN PERFECTER expression as Al’s disappointed dad. This is nearing “Dewey, I’m cut in half pretty bad” levels of music biopic mockery. Also, Nicholson and Huss both appear in Blonde, which isn’t a music biopic but still is an interesting quirk of timing, that they’re both in a parody of biopics and a pseudo-biopic in the same year.
However, after the trailer was released it became clear there is a generation gap regarding Weird Al, because The Youths didn’t seem to get the joke. There was a lot of “why is this funny” going around. It’s funny because none of that sh-t happened! Al Yankovic never fought with his band or had an affair with Madonna or was hospitalized for substance abuse. He’s a square, the music nerd who hit as big as his idols by riffing on their songs. His parents supported his accordion lessons, and he’s the LAST person who would stub out a cigarette on someone’s hand. But, just like his songs lampoon chart-topping hits, his movie is lampooning all the music biopics that hit these same, familiar beats. And it’s doing it with the “out of control rockstar” sporting a series of dumb Hawaiian shirts and a cheesy moustache and going so far as being released on “The Roku Channel”, a parody of streaming services. Layers within layers of parody!
Anyway, one of my dreams for the 2022-23 awards season is that someone puts DanRad and Austin Butler into an “actors on actors” scenario. This is a genius idea the world can have for free.