Do we really need another ZAZ-style spoof of the Oscar-chasing music biopic after “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story?” The amazing Jake Kasdan. Maybe not, but Eric Appel’s “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” comes at least to the outdated formula from a semi-novel angle: it’s the life of one of the kindest and most sincere people in show business amplified beyond recognition.
If you know of his career, the unlikely con artist rose to become a Top 40 radio star, starting with new song kingpin Dr. Demento discovered it at the age of 16, starting out as a parody of exaggerated facts. But once Yankovic was a smash hit, the film turned into a nutzoid document of 1980s excess that had more in common with “Scarface” than “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Appel and his collaborators are smart enough to know they can’t stick to the “Hard Walk” route, so you can’t envy them for taking such absurd liberties with the friendly celebrity life. Either approach does cut down on a few jokes (as the ZAZ team learned with “Airplane!” and “Police Squad!,” the straighter you play the parody, the funnier), but it’s a blast to watch so many talented players throw themselves into the air. in the iconic 80s caricature. And no one has more fun in “Weird” than Evan Rachel Wood as Material Girl-era Madonna.
Evan Rachel Wood Grooves to Madonna’s Music
Ever since he delivered his knockout portrayal of a troubled teenager in Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen,” Wood has become a must-see actor. She has the charming presence of a born movie star, but she resists the pull of mainstream films at almost every step. She was phenomenal as a restless teenager in David Jacobson’s “Down in the Valley” and dazzling as the narcissistic daughter of main character Kate Winslet in Todd Haynes’ “Mildred Pierce.” Her reach seems limitless, but I have to admit: I never saw her as a dead man for the mid-1980s Madonna.
While his views on the pop icon are broadly comedic, Wood is such a talented performer that you can see him easily suppressing his pretense of going deep into the surface-obsessed celebrity. What he does here is similar to Val Kilmer’s Jim Morrisson in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors.” This is brilliant mimicry.
How did he do it? Here’s what Wood told Danielle Ryan/Film himself in an exclusive interview:
“I did watch a lot of early ’80s interviews, because he evolved and changed a lot. I tried to focus on the time period we were doing for accuracy. So, yes, I watched a lot of his interviews and how he did it was in the conversation, how she carried herself, her mannerisms. It was really fun for me, because I got to review a lot of Madonna’s amazing material and be reminded how genius she was always. I think the main thing I have to forget and work on is her — sometimes I feel like a nerd and [I’m] sometimes simple. And he’s just completely confident, completely confident. He controls every room he enters. So that’s a button I have to lean on and change, I think.”
No Encore For Wood Girl
If you were expecting a more substantive portrayal of Madonna from Wood, you might be out of luck. Madonna is directing her own biopic—because of course she is—titled “Little Sparrow,” and she’s chosen Julia Garner to be her screen avatar. While Garner is an incredibly talented actor and bears more than a little resemblance to his star, it’s easy to see Madonna, boss among bosses, go full on Kubrick when it comes to recapturing and commenting on his ever-changing image. Wood can go deeper and darker than Madonna might want.
From “Thirteen” to “Mildred Pierce” to the very invisible “Allure”, that’s what he always does. There may be a Joni Mitchell biopic in the future.
Read this next: The 14 Greatest Biopics of the 21st Century
Evan Rachel Wood’s Post Quickly Finds The Key To Playing Madonna in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story [Exclusive] appears first in /Movies.