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Weird: The Al Yankovic Story - What We Know So Far

Biopics of famous musicians have become a Hollywood staple, and it's not hard to figure out why. As it turns out, people love going to the cinema to learn more about their favorite artists in a somewhat fictionalized form. Just look at the success of such films as "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Rocketman," and more, which went on to become critical and financial hits in their time. Of course, while music icons like Ray Charles and Elvis Presley are probably more than deserving of serious big-screen blockbusters, it's about time another lyrically-gifted name got their time in the spotlight: "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Since rising to fame in the 1980s, Yankovic has become one of the most unique and recognizable artists in the music world. With a love of the accordion and a clear penchant for parody, he's put together some catchy tunes in his time, ranging from "Smells Like Nirvana" to "Amish Paradise" — humorous takes on Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise." In addition to enjoying a fascinating musical career, Yankovic has lived quite the eventful life, making him the perfect candidate for his own biopic that's fittingly titled "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story."

Here's what we know about the "Weird Al" biopic, which premiered on November 4, 2022.

What is the plot of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

The origins of "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" date back to 2010 and stem from Funny or Die. The minds behind it put together a trailer for a then-fake movie of the same name with Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" fame portraying the titular musician. It garnered some attention online at the time but didn't seem to be anything more than a funny sketch that could score a few clicks. Fast forward 12 years, and "The Al Yankovic" story became a reality — bringing with it all of the bonkers and hilarious revisions to Yankovic's life story that the original teaser advertised.

In "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," viewers will witness the man behind such classics as "Another One Rides the Bus" and "Livin' in the Fridge" attempt to gain a foothold in the music industry. Leaving behind a home life where there was no bigger disgrace than playing the accordion, Yankovic will defy the odds and become a musical icon. However, this will bring with it no shortage of challenges, including a romance that threatens to derail his career entirely (via Rotten Tomatoes). Essentially, it's a parody of music biopics about a musician who's made a career off of parodies. According to a trailer for the film, "Weird" will tell the sensationalized and extremely untrue story of the rise and fall of Yankovic, including how he was discovered in a club, devised his first parody on the spot, and allowed himself to be seduced by Madonna, and descended into a haze of drugs, alcohol, and arrests.

Who stars in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

To pull off such an epic tale of fame, love, and polka, "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" assembled a strong cast. First and foremost is Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, who The Hollywood Reporter revealed signed on to play Yankovic in January 2022. Rainn Wilson ("The Office") joins him as his mentor, funny music curator and syndicated radio show host Dr. Demento, with Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, Quinta Brunson as Oprah Winfrey, and Spencer Treat Clark as Yankovic's longtime bassist, Steve Jay. Additionally, Toby Huss and Julianne Nicholson portray Yankovic's anti-accordion parents, Nick and Mary Yankovic.

Other notable and familiar comic actors round out the cast of "Weird," in smaller roles. Thomas Lennon of "The State" and "Reno 911" plays an accordion salesman who connects Yankovic to his fated instrument, Dot-Marie Jones of "Glee" plays a character named Mama Bear, Arturo Castro from "Broad City" pops up as notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, while Will Forte and the real "Weird Al" Yankovic himself also make appearances. Character actors James Preston Rogers, Gordon Tarpley, and Nina West show up in "Weird" as celebrities: Hulk Hogan, David Bowie, and Divine, respectively.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the "Al Yankovic Story" cast, and even though it's impressive as-is, it could've included another big name: Aaron Paul. The "Westworld" star nearly had a spot in the film, considering he was the original "Weird Al" in the Funny or Die trailer, but his cameo never came to pass. In an interview with CinemaBlend, Paul explained that a bout of COVID-19 during principal photography prevented him from appearing. "I couldn't do it, and then I was just out for like 10 solid days. I have never felt more sick in my life. And so we couldn't do the cameo, which I just absolutely was crushed about," he said.

Who directed Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

With a solid cast and a fun story, "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" quickly shaped up to be a home run, and the choice of director further solidified that notion. Eric Appel took on directing duties for the film, and it's difficult to imagine a better choice. After all, he's the one that spearheaded the original Aaron Paul-led trailer that got the ball rolling all those years ago. At the same time, Appel hasn't worked on "Weird Al" Yankovic-centric media alone. He boasts an impressive and varied résumé that dates back to the late-2000s and extends well beyond the reaches of Funny or Die.

As a director, Appel has a host of Funny or Die projects under his belt, including "The Big Dog," "Coffee Snobs," and "Pee-Wee Gets an iPad!" He's also jumped to television and helmed episodes of "New Girl," "The Office," "Son of Zorn," "The Grinder," "Blue Mountain State," and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," among numerous other well-known network and cable programs. Appel has worked as a writer, producer, and editor as well, though he isn't always behind the camera. He's tried his hand at acting on a small handful of occasions and last appeared on the episode "Mudslide Junction" of "Nick Swardson's Pretend Time" as Tim way back in 2010 (via IMDb).

Appel also wrote the screenplay for "Weird: The Al Yankovic" story, alongside the subject of the film, the real "Weird Al" Yankovic, leaning hard into the whole parody thing.

Is there a trailer for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

To build hype for the release of "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," a trailer for the film arrived in May of 2022. The teaser kicks off with a concert venue preparing for what appears to be a huge act. The crowd is on their feet as they await the musician they're all there to see, and in mere moments, they get their wish. "Weird Al" Yankovic emerges on stage — accordion in hand — and prepares to put on a show. The 1986 track "Like A Surgeon" begins to play as we see a string of clips from the film.

While not revealing too much about the plot, the montage does provide some interesting tidbits. We see Yankovic perform at various venues, dazzle onlookers with his music and dance skills, and even get into a heated fight at a restaurant. A stern Yankovic then asks if anyone has an accordion, prompting three people to hand him an instrument simultaneously. The teaser closes with the title card for "The Al Yankovic Story" and the lead character confessing that he's full of surprises as he struggles to shut a door.

In August 2022, a proper, longer trailer for "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" hit the internet, revealing more plot beats, moments, and characters from the film. With Daniel Radcliffe narrating, the preview argues that "Weird" is the origin story of a legendary musician, one who dreamed of making up funny lyrics to songs that already existed, and who could do it off the top of his head, was discovered in a club and given his stage name by Dr. Demento, romanced by Madonna, and partied harder than anyone. (And you can spy Will Forte and the real "Weird Al" Yankovic at the end if you look closely.) If you're a "Weird Al" fan, a supporter of musical biopics, in need of a comedy fix, or just want to see something unique, then "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" is the film for you.

What have critics said about Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

"Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" made its public debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September 2022, and within a few days, movie critics and film writers in attendance began to publish their reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, it appeared as if "Weird" just might be a critical darling, earning an exemplary 92% rating on the review aggregator site.

David Fear of Rolling Stone praised the film as an extension of the "Weird Al" brand: "Like the artist himself, 'Weird' knows how to make fun of something with affection, the [occasional] dollop of barbed wit and a knack for making imitation seem like the sincerest form of creativity." Slant wrote that the film "accordingly (or is it accordionin-gly?) takes everything to new heights of glorious ridiculousness." Valerie Complex of Deadline enjoyed the "cameos — so many cameos," while David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews gushed over Daniel Radcliffe's "completely captivating, go-for-broke performance."