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#TIFF22 Review: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Midnight Madness)

September 12, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

“Weird Al” Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody songs, and now he gets the biopic treatment in director Eric Appel’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. But, in true Yankovic fashion, this is less a biopic and more a Walk Hard-style spoof of the genre, which is only fitting for a Weird Al movie. And it’s an absolute blast.

Daniel Radcliffe takes on the title role, and he gives it his all, tearing up the screen with a no-holds-barred performance as the famous singer and accordion player who wears Hawaiian shirts. The film, which was co-written by Yankovic, charts his life story from childhood, growing up with a father (Toby Huss) who disapproves of him changing the words to well-known songs, and how his life is changed by a travelling accordion salesman (his father especially doesn’t want no son of his playing that “devil’s squeezebox”).

As a teenager, Al has the formative experience of sneaking away to an illegal polka party, and eventually finds divine inspiration through the perfect convergence of hearing “My Sharona” on the radio while making bologna sandwiches for his stoner roommates. From here, Weird presents a wildly embellished version of Yankovic’s road to fame as a parody songwriter, and if you think you know his story, think again.

There are wild twists and cameos galore (oh, the cameos!), with a variety of recognizable comic actors taking on the roles of other outsider celebrities from the era, as the film charts Al’s relationship with his mentor Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), as well as his illicit love affair with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood), and run-ins with Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro). The film plays fast and loose with its music history (I mean, clearly a lot of what we see here besides a few key details didn’t actually happen), but Appel and co simply have so much fun doing so and is constantly aware of what it is trying to be.

If you crossed Anchorman with a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody, this is what you would get. A good spoof movie is hard to pull off, but this film does it. What a fitting tribute to the master of the parody tune. It’s just so much fun to watch, especially with a crowd if you get the chance; the Midnight Madness crowd went nuts for it the other night, and gave it a standing ovation!

Public Screenings:

Thursday, September 8th – 11:59 PM at Royal Alexandra Theatre

Friday, September 9th – 12:15 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sunday, September 8th – 9:00 AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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