Weird: The Al Yankovic Story review – Daniel Radcliffe biopic packed with wacky walk-ons

Packed with parody musical cliches, this spoof biopic of the afro-haired singing turn is a long slow trudge with little comedy

This month has seen the posthumous release of Alan Rickman’s diaries, which revealed the late star’s opinion about his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe: “I still don’t think he’s really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce.” Maybe so. But these career progressions are still in the future and Radcliffe has been cast here as the American accordionist and wacky singing turn “Weird” Al Yankovic with frizzy afro and moustache in this laboriously unfunny and pointless spoof biopic, co-written and produced by Yankovic himself.

Just as Yankovic made his name with wacky parodies of songs like My Sharona and Another One Bites the Dust, so this movie strains to parody musical films such as Walk the Line, with all the usual cliches: needle-scratch freezeframe voiceover opening (although the cliche there is maybe unintentional), tough upbringing, uncaring parents, breakthrough to fame, substance abuse, crisis and comeback, all of which bears little or no relation to Yankovic’s actual life.

There are one or two vaguely decent things here: a nice gag about no one recognising Queen bassist John Deacon, and a game performance from Julianne Nicholson. Having just portrayed Marilyn Monroe’s mother in Blonde, Nicholson now gets to play Al’s mum, placidly telling her music-obsessed boy things such as: “Stop being who you are and doing the things you love.”

But really it is a long, slow trudge through a lot of zany walk-ons. Rainn Wilson plays the freaky DJ Dr Demento who gave Al his first break, Jack Black shows up briefly to play Wolfman Jack, and Evan Rachel Wood plays 80s-era Madonna whom this film imagines to have had a passionate affair with our hero. This film also jokingly – or maybe not exactly jokingly – implies that Al repeatedly turned down historic opportunities that would have made him an A-list pop legend. As for Radcliffe, he doesn’t seem to have a funny bone in his body, but then it’s difficult to tell considering the preponderance of unfunniness in this script.

• Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is released on 4 November on Roku.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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