Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Has '2 Aces Up Its Sleeve'

Or so praises one critic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2022 10:54 AM CDT

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a bit wacky. But what else would you expect from the parodist, who co-produced and co-wrote the film along with the director, Eric Appel, who produced a 2010 short that inspired it. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al, Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, and Rainn Wilson as DJ and mentor Dr. Demento, the film released Friday on the Roku Channel certainly has critics smiling behind their 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what they're saying:

  • The film gets the label of Critics Pick at the New York Times, where Amy Nicholson points out that "like Yankovic's music, Weird is a note-for-note parody of a genre. Here, the target is the prestige biography and its rote rise-and-fall trajectory." There's some truth to the tale—for instance, Yankovic "did record his first hit in a public bathroom," Nicholson writes. But it's unlikely that his accordion was actually "slandered as a vomit-inducing devil’s squeezebox."
  • That the "gleefully absurd" film "has zero interest in telling you the actual Al Yankovic story" is one of "two tremendous aces up its sleeve," writes Jordan Hoffman at Vanity Fair. The other is Daniel Radcliffe, whose "zeal for the role is contagious," Hoffman writes. "He's basically doing an extended Saturday Night Live appearance, but he commands your attention." Wood is "very funny" and Wilson is "hilarious," he adds, pointing to "a few out-of-nowhere zings that really kill."

  • Dana Stevens didn't appreciate a "dreary stretch" of the film that sees Weird Al and Madonna encounter Pablo Escobar. It "leaves a bad taste in the viewer's mouth, both because of the over-the-top violence and because of the implicit sexism in the portrayal of Madonna as a femme fatale who pours liquor down the throat of the innocent Al," she writes at Slate. The film "redeems itself in the final act," however, and the final message—"be as weird as you wanna be"—is "a rare flight of straight-from-the-heart sincerity, and not a bad design for living."
  • "Even allowing for the fact that Weird isn't much more than a snack, as the man in question sang, just eat it," writes Brian Lowry at CNN. "There's something to keep viewers engaged and mostly entertained," including Wood's "pretty uncanny impersonation" of Madonna and "a who's who of comedy talent popping in along the way."
(More movie review stories.)

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