Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovicrealized by Eric Appel, is the only lightly dramatized biopic of probably the most famous comedy musicians of all time. Appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2022 and appearing on Roku on November 4, 2022, it follows “Weird” Al Yankovic, here played by Daniel Radcliffe, as he rises to fame through adversity, gets immediately discovered, falls into his own pride, dates Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) for a brief period, kills Pablo Escobar and gets back up. Like I said, only lightly dramatized.
Seriously, it is, naturally given who Weird Al is, a parody of musical biopics, with some surprising nuggets of truth hidden within. He got his first accordion from a door-to-door salesman and made his debut with another comedy legend Dr. denies (Rainn Wilson), but it is above all an absurd and charming mockery of a much exaggerated formula. This film was based on a 2013 Funny or Die sketch, with the company producing this film and many of the story beats being taken from it. An on the ball parody nine years ago is an on the ball parody now. But there was also a similar musical biopic parody 15 years ago.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Storyrealized by Jake Kasdanfollows the story of fictional musician Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) and his rise to glory through adversity, his immediate discovery, his fall into his own pride and his triumphant return. While it had the appropriate amount of 2000s comedic antics, what it did best was strike while the iron was hot and take many of the methods and aesthetics of the prestige movies that were coming out in the time, especially Ray and walk the line, biopics on Ray Charles and Johnny Cash respectively. While it was a box office bomb, it was well received by critics and is considered today a cult classic with an excellent soundtrack, both of its time and well in advance on him.
Now this ain’t a hit piece about how Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovic is a scam walk hard, rather the opposite. The fact that two films can parody the same formula, 15 years apart, and that parody is still relevant reveals something we should take note of. That in a place and time where film and fiction are constantly evolving, there is a specific subgenre that, while steadily gaining in prestige, has remained stale for over a decade.
The problem with musical biopics
These two films are a parody of a much exaggerated formula – the musical biopic formula. It starts with the artist in his position halfway through or at the end of the film before returning to his childhood. They usually endure some form of trauma at a young age or encounter parents intolerant of their musical ambitions, or both. They discover they have a gift early on and instantly create a standout song before instantly getting noticed by an influencer like an agent or producer. There’s usually a montage of them making an album, or going on tour, or just being generally famous. They inevitably let fame get to their head and become addicted to drugs, cheat on partners, burn out from work, alienate friends, or all of the above before they hit rock bottom. They bounce back for their triumphant return, reconcile with their disapproving parents, put on one last great performance, freeze frame with text telling us where they are now or when and how they died. Credits with photos of the actual artist.
Many movies probably came to mind when I described this plot synopsis, movies that made a lot of money and prestige, maybe won awards, but movies that few people remember today. The previously mentioned Ray and walk the lineduring the biopic boom of the 2000s, or Life in pink, Famous, The doors, Straight outta Compton, or even those as recent as Bohemian Rhapsody, Respect, or the only recently released Elvis. Music biopics appear maybe once or twice a year, and little changes between each. That’s not to say all music biopics are the same, but those that break the mold like love and mercy Where I am not here are usually exceptions to the rule.
Musical biopics will continue to be produced
Although people forget or turn on more recent biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody as fast as they came out, only really noting the lead actor’s performance if he stood out, movies like this are still coming out. Prestige is probably why making a film about an accessible figure like a musician, with the musician’s or his or her estate’s blessing or involvement, usually means the film has to both appeal to an incredibly large audience and make the subject as beautiful as possible. That it was an amazing life of a gifted person who went through a lot and endured it all.
No one should expect a fictional depiction of a real life or event to be completely historically accurate, but the musical biopic formula has become insidious to the point of completely changing or heavily watering down the facts, or change the timeline of events, all in service. of a tired cliche. This not only homogenizes the complex lives of several extremely complicated human beings, as no full human life can be compressed into two hours, but also makes the creation process easy. The incredibly hard work it takes to be a career musician usually outweighs the trials and tribulations they’ve had to endure, which are usually the same trials and tribulations as other artists in other films in the world. point where you feel nothing for any of them. , despite the reality of these difficulties outside of the film.
There’s so much hope in me Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovic achieves success Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story have. Not just because Radcliffe gives us another brilliant performance from his bizarre post-Harry Potter career, or the fact that it’s a hugely fun watch, but because it brings an important message back into the mainstream: musical biopics are in desperate need of an overhaul. , and the public has long warned them. We need well-made movie parodies like this again to reflect on the sufficiency of prestige cinema and to point out that it can reach the point of ridiculousness – or perhaps it already has. do. We need new stories to be told in new ways, so that the life of a working artist is told through more than just a montage of tours and autograph signings, so that the tribulations of a human life become more than routine and routine, Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovic tells us that the formula is exhausted, down to silliness. We should all listen.