Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/12/23;
Shout! Studios;
Comedy;
$19.98 DVD, $26.98 Blu-ray, $36.98 UHD BD;
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, Quinta Brunson, 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. (The song, “Now You Know,” was indeed nominated for an Emmy).

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.

Originally released for streaming by the Roku Channel in 2022, Weird makes its way to 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from Shout! Studios with an extensive selection of bonus materials.

The 4K combo pack includes the film on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray Disc, and offers an informative commentary track with Yankovic and director Eric Appel in which they discuss pretty much every aspect of the production.

There are no additional extras on the 4K disc, but plenty on the Blu-ray.

Yankovic and Appel also appear in a 24-and-a-half-minute video in which they introduce and discuss a number of deleted, extended and alternate scenes which are pretty funny but were ultimately removed for timing and tone issues. The segment includes about a dozen unused clips.

Also included is a four-minute making-of featurette, and numerous clips of the stars hitting the interview circuit. Included are Yankovic and Radcliffe on “Late Night with Seth Meyers: (10 minutes); TheWrap.com interviewing Yankovic and Appel (four minutes); and Variety.com interviewing Radcliffe, Wood and Appel at the Toronto International Film Festival (eight minutes). There’s also a two-minute IMDb.com video about the cameos in the pool party scene.

Rounding out the extras is a five-minute lyric video for “Now You Know,” the film’s trailers, and a two-minute montage of Yankovic doing Roku promos of the film.

About the only thing not included is the original Funny or Die trailer, which can be found easily enough online.

Originally published as a streaming review Nov. 13, 2022.

Strays

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $23.99 million;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and drug use.
Stars Will Forte. Voices of Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, Rob Riggle.

The raunchy animal adventure Strays takes aim at countless dog movie tropes with often hilarious results. But the film is also surprisingly effective at wringing some emotional resonance out of its premise.

Will Ferrell voices Reggie, a scruffy border terrier with unconditional love for his owner, Doug (Will Forte). However, Doug despises the idea of taking care of a pet, and only kept the pup to spite an ex-girlfriend who dumped him for cheating on her. When Doug dumps Reggie in a city three hours away, Reggie is determined to return home.

After a few local dogs hear the naïve Reggie’s story, they convince him that he’s been abandoned, leading Reggie to devise a new quest — to return home to teach Doug a lesson by biting off his genitals.

Reggie’s ad hoc pack includes Bug (Jamie Foxx), a tough-talking Boston Terrier; Maggie (Isla Fisher), a glamorous Australian Shepherd whose owner now prefers smaller social-media friendly dogs; and Hunter (Randall Park), a Great Dane who works as a therapy dog at a senior center.

The crux of the film involves the foul-mouthed dogs talking to each other with CG effects to make their lips move, giving the film the feeling of a crude version of Lady and the Tramp. The road trip aspect gives the film an air of Homeward Bound as well, while a couple of well-placed cameos spoof more-recent dog movies such as A Dog’s Purpose.

The jokes don’t always land, but the filmmaking is earnest enough in its intentions to connect with dog lovers who should appreciate the affection the movie has for man’s best friend.

The Blu-ray includes a fun commentary with director-producer Josh Greenbaum and screenwriter-producer Dan Perrault, in which they discuss many of the tricks used to get the dogs at the center of the story to perform as needed to move the story along. For many scenes they just filmed the dogs being dogs and wrote around it.

 Also included are six featurettes totaling 35 minutes of behind-the-scenes material.

The general making of the film is told in the six-and-a-half-minute “The Ultimate Treat: Making Strays”; the five-and-a-half-minute “Training to Be Stray” focuses on how the filmmakers got the dogs to perform;  the six-and-a-half-minute “Poop, Booms, and Shrooms” deals with some practical on-set visual effects; “Talk Like a Dog” is a seven-minute video about the voice cast; “Will Forte, Stray Actor” is a tongue-in-cheek six minute profile of the man behind the film’s primary human character; and “A New Best Friend” is a three-and-a-half-minute piece in which the actors talk about their own dogs, and Greenbaum discusses how he adopted one of the puppies that played young Reggie after their scenes were filmed.

 

Will Forte to Star in Netflix Drama Series From Obamas’ Higher Ground

Will Forte will star in the drama series “Bodkin” (working title) from Netflix, Barack and Michelle Obamas’ Higher Ground, and independent studio wiip for the streaming service.

The series will start production in Ireland next week.

In addition to Forte, Siobhan Cullen, Robyn Cara, David Wilmot and Chris Walley are set to star in the seven-episode, darkly comedic thriller.

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The series follows a crew of podcasters who set out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of three strangers in an idyllic, coastal Irish town. But once they start pulling at threads, they discover a story much bigger and weirder than they could have ever imagined. As they try to discern fact from fiction — about the case, about their colleagues, and, most painfully, about themselves — the series challenges viewers’ perception of truth and exposes the stories they tell to justify beliefs or validate fears.

‘Scoob!’ Getting Virtual Star-Studded Premiere on Twitter May 15

Warner May 15 is mounting a virtual premiere event for the premium VOD release of the animated feature Scoob! via Twitter.

The Twitter #ScoobMovieNight premiere event, hosted by the big dog himself, starts at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, and features Scoob! moments with stars from the movie, including Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Frank Welker, Iain Armitage, Arianna Greenblatt, Mckenna Grace and Pierce Gagnon, and director Tony Cervone. Lennon Stella will exclusively premiere an acoustic version of lead single “Summer Feelings,” while Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown and Ava Max will be on hand to showcase their newly released single “On Me.” Both are from “Scoob! The Album,” the movie’s official musical companion also arriving May 15 and available to pre-save now here.

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TikTok dance videos from the #ScoobDance challenge have racked up more than 3 billion views, according to a studio release. Other marketing includes Scoob trivia questions and a Scoob-themed PSA from Best Friends Animal Society (bestfriends.org) about helping homeless dogs and cats.

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Following the preshow, fans across the U.S. and Canada can rent or buy the feature and share Tweets about it using #ScoobMovieNight. The feature will be available for a 48-hour rental via PVOD at $19.99, or premium digital ownership at $24.99. Consumers can visit https://www.watchscoob.com to preorder a copy.

A family activity pack is available at https://www.scoob.movie/homepremiere.php

Scoob! reveals the never-before-told story of Scooby-Doo’s origins. It shows how one of history’s most famous friendships began when a homeless puppy met a lonesome young boy named Shaggy, and how the two of them joined forces with aspiring young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to become the celebrated Mystery Inc. With hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face the biggest and most challenging mystery of their careers: a plot that will unleash the legendary ghost dog Cerberus upon the world.

Good Boys

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/12/19;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $83.08 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout — all involving tweens.
Stars Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Will Forte, Sam Richardson, Stephen Merchant.

As Master Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” But what happens when you make them wonder about sex, drugs and random debauchery?

And that’s where Good Boys comes in, and the fact that it comes from Seth Rogen’s production team pretty much explains exactly what to expect from the film.

It’s Stand by Me meets American Pie, a satire of the simplistic perspective kids tend to have of things. As such, it mines the intersection of the innocence of children and the seediness of the adult world for great laughs.

The question of whether how appropriate it is for such a young cast to form the basis of a film like this is not lost on the filmmakers and comes up several times in the bonus materials. Before the film had come out they had already hit upon the audacious marketing hook that the film was too raunchy for its young stars to even see it. Nowhere is this concept more prominent than on the film’s own Blu-ray box art, which comes emblazoned with an oversized graphic of the MPAA ‘R’ rating and the three main characters glancing upward at a line proclaiming “You Must Be This Tall to See This Movie.”

The film stars up-and-comer Jacob Tremblay as 12-year-old Max, who gets invited to a kissing party and freaks out because he doesn’t want his inexperience to scare off the girl that he likes. So he enlists his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) to help him research how to kiss. Eventually, the group, who call themselves the Bean Bag Boys, decide to use an expensive drone that is the prized possession of Max’s father (Will Forte) to spy on some local teenagers making out.

But when the drone gets destroyed, the Bean Bag Boys must scheme to come up with the funds to replace it, skip school and embark on a trek to the local mall (a distant journey of at least four miles) to replace it before Max’s dad gets home and grounds him so that he can’t go to the party. Along the way, they must deal with the teenagers they were spying on hunting them down for drugs they accidentally stole, not to mention cops, frat boys, sex toys and the peer pressure of drinking more than three sips of beer.

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The Blu-ray includes a fun, laid-back commentary from the film’s co-writers — director Gene Stupnitsky and producer Lee Eisenberg — that covers many of the inspirations for the film and the specific jokes involved.

There’s a two-minute alternate ending and more than 10 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, many of which are alluded to in the commentary.

Also included is a two-minute gag reel and six featurettes that provide about 14 minutes of behind-the-scenes material. These offer the usual tidbits about the cast and filmmaking process, including the interesting nugget that the school used in the film was Tremblay’s actual school in Vancouver.

But it all comes back to the filthy language used by the young stars, and some hilarious discussions about how they have no idea what the dialogue they’ve been given to say actually means.

The mind of a child, indeed.

‘Booksmart’ Matriculates to Digital Aug. 20, Disc Sept. 3 From Fox

The teen coming-of-age comedy Booksmart will come out on digital Aug. 20 and Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 3 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, the unfiltered comedy follows best friends and academic overachievers Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) who realize they’ve missed out on pretty much all fun during high school. On the eve of graduation, they decide to make up for lost time with one wild adventure. The film also stars Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Billie Lourd and Jason Sudeikis.

Disc bonus features include audio commentary by Wilde, “Booksmart: The Next ‘Best High School Comedy,’” “Pliés and Jazz Hands: The Dance Fantasy,” “Dressing Booksmart,” deleted scenes and a photo gallery.

The film made $22.2 million at the domestic box office.

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