Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

STREAMING REVIEW:

Roku Channel;
Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Thomas Lennon, Spencer Treat Clark, Julianne Nicholson, Toby Huss, Arturo Castro, Will Forte, Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Diedrich Bader, “Weird Al” Yankovic.

What else would a movie about the life of song parody specialist “Weird Al” Yankovic be but a spoof of musician biopics?

Based on a fake trailer posted by Funny or Die in 2010, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story pokes fun at the music scene and pop culture in the 1980s.

It begins with a young, misunderstood boy whose parents discouraged his dream of writing goofy new lyrics for established songs, telling him that, for the sake of the family, he should “stop being who you are and doing the things you love” and get a job at the local factory.

Instead, the adult Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe) moves to Hollywood with a passion for the accordion, but is rejected by the record labels. Taking his talents to open mic nights at bars, he’s discovered by novelty act radio broadcaster Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), and quickly becomes the bad boy of the music industry, sparking a relationship with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) that takes him down a dark path and a confrontation with drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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Needless to say, almost none of this actually happened. But the film is a treasure trove of laughs for fans of Yankovic’s songs who will most appreciate the meta humor on display. For instance, in Al’s first meeting with the brothers who run his record label, one of them berates him as a worthless, no-talent hack while the camera cuts to the other brother, who is played by the real “Weird Al,” wincing in discomfort at the insults.

But the film’s best scene might be a take-off on the pool party from Boogie Nights, as Al is introduced to the wacky menagerie of the offbeat personalities and oddballs of the 1970s and ’80s, and is challenged by Wolfman Jack (a precision cameo by Jack Black) to come up with a parody song on the spot, which Al defiantly does to cement his path toward becoming a legend.

However, Al quickly becomes disenchanted by his success as a parody artist, and endeavors to create his own original songs. So after a drug-infused vision straight out of The Doors, he writes “Eat It,” leading to one of the film’s better running jokes that posits musicians such as Michael Jackson are actually parodying Yankovic’s songs. (There’s a bit of irony here as the real-life Yankovic has plenty of originals in his catalog, though still in a humorous vein.)

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Just to complete the journey of his life’s work, Yankovic contributes a new song for the end credits, as no blockbuster would be complete without a new tune cynically produced for awards-season bait.

There is nothing here to be taken seriously, but plenty to appreciate for the hilariously dumb fun that it is, just like Yankovic’s music.

 

The Lost City

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Comedy;
Box Office $105.34 million;
$27.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $38.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and some bloody images, suggestive material, partial nudity and language.
Stars Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Bowen Yang, Joan Pringle, Brad Pitt.

Deftly blending comedy and action, The Lost City is a charming adventure that coasts on the charisma of its cast.

The story comes across like an update of Romancing the Stone with a bit of The Three Amigos thrown in. Sandra Bullock plays reclusive romance novelist Loretta Sage, whose latest novel catches the attention of a billionaire named Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who is searching for the treasure that served as the basis for her book. He kidnaps her and puts her to the task of finding the treasure by deciphering clues from the ruins of an ancient city that he dug up on a remote island.

Her disappearance prompts Alan (Channing Tatum), the dimwitted cover model for her book series, to try to rescue her by hiring a mercenary (Brad Pitt). When the rescue goes awry, Loretta finds herself stuck with Alan running through the jungle hoping to find a way home, while Fairfax continues to pursue her, intent on fining the treasure before a nearby volcano wipes everything out.

The plot takes some unexpected twists and turns as it plays with the tropes of treasure hunt movies. The film looks great as well, with its jungle vistas, volcano backdrop and a snappy color palette centered on Loretta’s shiny purple sequined jumpsuit.

The Blu-ray includes nine minutes of deleted scenes, the bulk of which involve a whole subplot for one of the film’s minor characters.

Also included are nearly 40 minutes of solid behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a five-and-a-half-minute blooper reel.

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Daniel Radcliffe to Portray ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic in Roku Original Comedy

Roku Jan. 18 announced it has greenlit a feature film about the prolific career of Grammy-winning musician and pop cultural icon “Weird Al” Yankovic. Produced by Funny or Die and Tango, WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story will be available exclusively on The Roku Channel. Production on the biopic begins in Los Angeles in early February.

Daniel Radcliffe, Al Yankovic

The Roku Original film will star “Harry Potter” alum Daniel Radcliffe in the title role of “Weird Al” Yankovic. The biopic aims to hold nothing back, exploring every facet of Yankovic’s life, from his meteoric rise to fame with early hits like “Eat It” and “Like a Surgeon” to his celebrity love affairs and infamous lifestyle.

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“When my last movie UHF came out in 1989, I made a solemn vow to my fans that I would release a major motion picture every 33 years, like clockwork,” Yankovic joked. “And I am absolutely thrilled that Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying me in the film. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the role future generations will remember him for.”

Colin Davis, Roku’s head of original scripted programming, contends there is a dearth of biopic movies about famous musicians. The executive believes a movie about Weird Al is what audiences are looking for.

“This is sincerely the ultimate combination of talent, creativity, and friends, coming together to make something genuinely funny, and we could not be prouder to call this film a Roku Original,” Davis said.

WEIRD: The Weird Al Yankovic Story is written by Al Yankovic & Eric Appel. Appel will also direct the film and is an executive producer. Yankovic produces, along with Mike Farah, Joe Farrell and Whitney Hodack for Funny or Die, and Tim Headington, Lia Buman and Max Silva for Tango. Funny or Die’s Henry Muñoz III and Tango’s Neil Shah are executive producers.

“Weird Al” Yankovic is the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time. A five-time Grammy winner, his 2014 release, “Mandatory Fun,” was the first comedy album in history to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200. He is one of only three artists to have had their own top 40 hits in each of the last four decades (the other two being Michael Jackson and Madonna). On Aug. 27, 2018, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce awarded Weird Al with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Roku Channel is the exclusive home of Roku Originals. From scripted entertainment and documentaries to unscripted series, Roku Originals gives viewers ad-supported free access to streaming content.

‘Guns Akimbo’ Shoots to Digital and Disc April 28

The actioner Guns Akimbo arrives on digital, Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD April 28 from Lionsgate.

It is available now on demand.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving, the movie follows a video game developer who is forced to play a game of survival being broadcast online for others’ amusement. Miles’s (Radcliffe) nerdy existence as a video game developer takes a dramatic turn when he inadvertently gets caught up as the next contestant with SKIZM, an underground gang live-streaming real-life death matches. While Miles excels at running away from everything, that won’t help him outlast Nix (Weaving), a killer at the top of her game.

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The film premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Special features include audio commentary with writer-director Jason Lei Howden; the “Welcome to SKIZM” featurette; and the “Nix vs. Dane Stunt Sequence Exploration” featurette.