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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 at the Royal Alexandra Theater, some in their best Hawaiian-print shirts and curly wigs. There were also at least two accordions spotted in the 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 a feature-length take on an over 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 Forrest Gump and Boogie Nights.
The rowdy audience sang and clapped along with Yankovic’s songs featured onscreen, including “I Love Rocky Road” and “Amish Paradise.” After the screening, Yankovic (in a Hawaiian-print shirt), Appel, Wood and Radcliffe took the stage 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. “I did what I could,” said the actor, laughing. “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 laughter 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 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.
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