Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
TV-14, but it's fairly tame. It's Weird Al. He's the first comedian that we teach our kids about. Yeah, there's sex. I don't quite want to let my kids watch it. But in terms of wildly offensive material, there's not much here. I suppose there is a little violence. But all of it is treated with such a level of absurdity that I would be befuddled to find the audience who would be offended by this.
DIRECTOR: Eric Appel
The first thing I thought while watching this movie is that I was flabbergasted by the fact that I haven't seen a truly silly new movie in ages. There used to be all kinds of silly movies. There are still comedies (I'm having a hard time finding an example), but nothing as goofball as Weird. The problem is that I'm going to have to call out the 400 lb gorilla in the room. There are a lot of people saying that Weird Al broke new ground with Weird...and he didn't. So much of this movie owes something to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story that I just need to get that out of the way. But because of Weird Al's immaculate track record (please don't make this blog dated and uncomfortable, Weird Al!), we can forgive that Walk Hard did it first and they can both exist simultaneously.
I'm writing in an almost futile void. I know I'm only going to have a few minutes to add to this, so I apologize if this is going to be another of my disjointed entries. I think I'm part of the crowd of people who like Weird Al in concept more than the throngs of adoring fans out there. Honestly, people love Weird Al. Some of those people are fans of his song parodies. Some think of him as the mind behind UHF or The Weird Al show. But Al Yankovic has carved such a niche fandom for himself that I simply sit in awe in what this ultimately counter-culture character has brought about for himself. Throughout Weird, coupled with the reality of the world of humor itself, it's understood that absolutely anyone could make a song parody. (I don't know how good these parodies would be, but it's not like someone owns the rights to making song parodies. And, yes, I'm aware of how self-aware that sentence is.) Weird Al is his own beast. There's an odd paradox with the notion of this film existing because it is a celebration of both how it shouldn't exist, yet the subject matter is completely deserving of a biopic.
It's not that Weird Al lived a hard life, as far as I can tell. Maybe it is because his real life is so mundane that makes this biopic worth telling. Starting as a Funny-or-Die skit ages ago that I kinda-sorta remember seeing, Weird is intentionally more fiction than fact. It revels in the fact that Weird Al has no rules and that's what makes him wonderful. Even the closing credits include an original song by Weird Al, a guy who A) only does parodies and B) died in his own biopic. What makes Weird such a compelling watch, and one that I've kept promoting to friends, is the idea that everything in the movie is both expected and completely out of left field. This isn't necessarily a parody of Weird Al, but just the notion of biopics. (See why I brought up Walk Hard so quickly?) It's funny in a wholly meta way. Could this movie work without a working knowledge of Weird Al? I don't think so. I'd like to think that this generation (me being an old man, I look at current generations as lesser) knows who Weird Al is. But, like a good parody should, this movie asks people to have a working knowledge of the source material.
This is probably not the most interesting take on the whole Weird movie, but having a Roku original is just odd. I'm about to flash my privilege pretty hard right here, but there is no such thing as a Roku premium account. Roku is and always will be sponsored by commercials. (Like I ask Weird Al not to embarrass me by becoming a monster, I also ask Roku to hold up their free model loaded with commercials. Weird is not a cheap looking movie. This movie really does scream cinematic in the silliest way imaginable. But it actually detracts from the movie by watching commercials. I know. I know. This is grousing to put more content in there. How can I detract from the movie when the people who made the movie didn't have much to do with commercials? Maybe this is a way to advocate for the continuation of supporting theater chains. Scorsese, Cameron, and Lynch have all rallied about the death of the movie theater. Spielberg, for the longest time, considered streaming services to be the death of cinema. I know that Weird might not be that movie to enter the cinematic canon, but it also might be the prime examples how commercials and streaming can impact a film.
The thing about comedy is that it really is about the timing. Yeah, I'm nothing if not a cliché. But when the film starts building a rhythm, and then is interrupted by commercial, there's something to be said about it. It's not necessarily about Weird, but how can that not be part of it? Until this comes out in physical media, this is the only way to absorb it for most people? But ultimately, this is me grousing. I have nothing to say to improve this. If Roku didn't make this, maybe it wouldn't have been made. I mean, I remember when this movie was announced, people didn't believe that Daniel Radcliffe would be Weird Al. Sure, they had the proof of concept. But on the other hand, I'm sure that there were people skeptical of a comedy skit that would be extended into a two-hour movie. So as much as I whine about the delivery service for Weird, I'll take stuff like this often. There's quality coupled with seriousness. There's something wholesome and rebellious at the same time. Because I hadn't seen something like this in a while, it became something special. It's good movie and I'm going to keep on recommending it.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.