Not only is Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, on The Roku Channel, one of the funniest and fun movie’s we’ve seen all year, but the parody biopic star Daniel Radcliffe revealed the announcement of his latest role had more interest than Harry Potter.
“This film was announced…just after the announcement for the Harry Potter reunion on HBO Max and when I say that I got more texts about this than that, it was a wide gap,” Radcliffe said at a press conference before the film’s release.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story tells the (mostly fake) story of how “Weird Al” came to be, from childhood to college years and adulthood, but it all started with director/writer Eric Appel's fake biopic movie trailer.
“This whole project started as a fake movie trailer that we made over a decade ago for Funny or Die,...all these biopics play so fast and loose with the facts and traditionally the subject of the biopic has been dead for 20 years,” Appel explained. “So I was like, I think it would be great to do a…fake biopic trailer about a real person who is alive now, and then just completely make the story up.”
“I had never met Al before, we have a mutual friend in Patton Oswalt, and I reached out to Patton and I said, I feel like I have this idea, I feel like it's kind of an idea that Al may want to do himself or something, I just want to get his blessing to do this. Patton wrote me back and he said he spoke to Al, he actually loves the idea, he wants your email address. Later that day, I'm at a coffee shop with Weird Al watching biopic trailers on a laptop, and that was sort of how this whole thing started.”
So how much of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is true? As Yankovic himself describes it, there are a few truths “sprinkled in” throughout this fictional story.
“There are a couple moments of actual truth sprinkled in,...like there was in fact a door-to-door accordion salesman that came along in my neighbourhood, offering music lessons,” he said. “I did in fact record ‘My Bologna’ in a public bathroom, now I did it by myself at the time, so I didn't have a whole band with me.”
'He wanted to really make it look real'
Just as Daniel Radcliffe recalled, the internet went wild when we caught the first glimpse of the Harry Potter star as Weird Al. Radcliffe initially thought there certainly was someone with more of a resemblance to Yankovic to pull off the role, but as you see in the film, the actor is the Weird Al we never knew we wanted, but we needed.
“There was so much about the script that was exciting when I read it,” Radcliffe said. “First and foremost, the way I tried to prioritize my career now is by going, 'what do I think I'm going to have the most fun making?’”
“This was so very obvious that this would be an incredibly fun thing to shoot because every page - you've got a fight scene and then a pool party, and then a dance number and a song, and just get to do something different every day,...it was incredibly exciting.”
“Dan was a great quick learner and I just still can't believe how well he pulled [off playing the accordion] because he didn't need to do that, Eric and I told him we can cut around you, you don't really need to learn how to play the accordion,” Yankovic added. “He really wanted to make it look like he was playing because I told him, I've seen a lot of people in movies and TV playing the accordion and I can tell it's fake, and he wanted to really make it look real, for the three or four people that know he's actually playing the right buttons.”
A sociopathic version of Madonna
Of course, you can’t talk about Weird: The Al Yankovic Story without talking about Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, but an unhinged, sociopathic version of the pop star.
“Who hasn't wanted to put on the early ‘80s Madonna get up?” Wood said. "It's so iconic, I never wanted to take the wardrobe off at the end of the day. It never got old.”
“I just danced around to the music and people called me Madonna when I came to set, it was like ‘Madonna is on her way, Madonna is in her chair. Madonna needs a sandwich.’ And then, I could see people getting visibly flustered and I was like, wow this really is like being able to wear the skin for a few hours out of the day.”
Many people have been wondering if "Weird Al" Yankovic really did have a romantic relationship with Madonna, as we see (to a heightened degree) in the film, but Yankovic recently told Jimmy Fallon that he only met her in 1985 when he talked to her "for maybe like 45 seconds."
When the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, the crowd went wild at the midnight screening, with people dressed in Hawaiian shirts, hooting throughout the comedic film and Radcliffe’s performances of songs like "Eat It," "My Bologna" and "Amish Paradise."
It may be tempting to be skeptical of buying into the hype of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, but it’s completely worthy of all the attention and praise. It’s a bundle of fun and laughs, you just have to let yourself bask in the weird.