Weird: The Al Yankovic Story opened the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival, where hopeful audience members started lining up over two hours before the midnight screening, some in their best Hawaiian print shirts and curly wigs. There were also at least two accordions waiting in line.
Weird, which “Weird Al” Yankovic co-wrote with director Eric Appel (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Silicon Valley) and produced, stars Daniel Radcliffe as a subversive version of Yankovic, seen in the trailer shirtless, swilling whiskey onstage and entertaining Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood) in between accordion riffs.
The movie is the feature-length take on over a decade-old fake trailer posted by Funny or Die, which starred Aaron Paul as Al and Olivia Wilde as Madonna. At the premiere, Appel compared the feature film to fellow musical biopics like Rocketman, as well as Forest Gump and Boogie Night.
The rowdy screening had an audience that sang and clapped along with Yankovic’s songs featured onscreen like “I Love Rocky Road” and “Amish Paradise”. After the screening, Yankovic (in a Hawaiian print shirt), Appel, Yankovic, Wood, and Radcliffe took the stage at the Royal Alexandra Theater in Toronto to a standing ovation.
Since Weird debuted its first look image with Radcliffe dressed as Yankovic and holding the accordion, the film has been eagerly anticipated. “It was a very easy conversation,” said Radcliffe of agreeing to star as the parody singer-songwriter.
Onscreen, Radcliffe is seen proficiently playing Yankovic’s signature instrument of choice. “I did what I could,” laughed the actor. “It is a very hard instrument.” In preparation for the movie, Radcliffe received emailed video tutorials from Yankovic that he said he will “treasure for the rest of my life.”
“And I got to be in the trailer next to him while he practiced,” interjected Wood to big laughs from the audience. But Wood was not the only one treated to his musical stylings. “There was roughly a month between me learning the verse of “My Bologna” and the chorus so my girlfriend was living in a perpetual hellscape,” said Radcliffe.
The movie does feature an original song from Yankovic that plays over the end credits, during which he sings about the song being Oscar eligible. The Grammy winner noted that they are currently talking to labels about releasing the soundtrack of the film, including the original score. When asked if there would be a sequel to the comedy, Yankovic offered, “I think there has to be.”
Weird will premiere on Roku on Nov 4.