‘Weird,’ But True: This is the Most Accurate Movie Review Ever

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Weerd. (CREDIT: The Roku Channel)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Toby Huss, Julianne Nicholson, Rainn Wilson, Spencer Treat Clark, Tommy O’Brien, Jack Lancaster

Director: Eric Appel

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (It’s a little over-the-top, but fun for all ages)

Release Date: November 4, 2022 (The Roku Channel)

What’s It About?: Did you see that fake trailer for a Weird Al biopic when it dropped on Funny or Die back in 2010? Now it’s fake no more! Well, the movie is real, but the trailer is still kind of fake, insofar as it was produced separately from the actual movie and most of the cast is different. Also, much of the biographical aspect of the whole endeavor is purposefully fake, befitting its subject.

Yes, I’m talking about Lynwood’s Alfred Matthew Yankovic, master musical parodist nonpareil! He’s played this time around by none other than Daniel Radcliffe, who doesn’t exactly resemble Al much beyond skin tone (and perhaps comedic sensibility). In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story isn’t exactly sticking to the facts in the strictest sense of the term. We’ve already been blessed both with musical biopic parodies and with Weird Al sensing his cinematic muscles, so can this latest venture possibly meet those high standards?

What Made an Impression?: I am a Weird Al devotee. Whenever I encounter anything he’s ever done, I’m comforted by a sense of everything feeling right in the world. That’s all to say: Weird was kind of burdened by unfairly high expectations. How I can go on living if this movie weren’t non-stop hilarity?!

But within just a few minutes of the projector rolling, something magical happened: I laughed. And then I laughed some more. This was no mere forced tittering, my friends, but instead the most natural reaction in the world. Pulling this off couldn’t have been easy. We Weird Al fans are by definition uber-savvy about pop culture, so we can spot every predictable plot twist and turn from a mile away. And while occasionally Weird can’t help but be straightforward, there are enough times that had me going, “Whoa, where the heck did that come from?”

One of those bizarre decisions is a propensity towards a multiplicity of shots of characters watching major developments happen on small TVs. That was certainly a directorial CHOICE from Eric Appel, and I’m not sure why he did it, but it definitely stuck with me.

Besides its slippery relationship with reality, Weird‘s other major attraction is its whirlwind of celebrity cameos. You could certainly look them up ahead of time on a thoroughly maintained online database, but I’ll keep it a secret on my little corner of the Internet. Instead, I’ll describe my reactions to seeing these cameos arrive: “Oh wow.” “This is just too much.” “Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.” “I hope this never ends.” “There she is!” “How are we so blessed?” “Gah!” “Oh, man.” “!!!” “!!!!!” “!!!!!!!”

And for the record, yes, I did eat a cup of Rocky Road afterwards.

Weird is Recommended If You Like: UHF, Walk Hard, Bologna

Grade: 4 out of 5 Accordions

Miranda July Shows Us What It’s Like to Try to Become a ‘Kajillionaire’

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Kajillionaire (CREDIT: Matt Kennedy/Focus Features)

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez

Director: Miranda July

Running Time: 106 Minutes

Rating: R for A Kajillionaire’s Worth of Language and Sexual References

Release Date: September 25, 2020 (Select Theaters)

Everyone wants to be a kajillionaire, isn’t that true? We simply won’t be satisfied until we reach that level of nonsensical wealth. That’s the driving premise behind Miranda July’s new film Kajillionaire, which tells the story of a family of emotionally stunted scam artists trying to pull off their next big heist. As this movie demonstrates, the environments that we grow up in can lead us to behave in certain ways that look positively insane to outsiders. Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood) sure looks resentful of the shenanigans her parents (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) wrangle her into, but she doesn’t really know any other way to live.

I’ve been practicing a movie review routine lately in which I judge the success of the movie by whether or not it makes me want to do the thing that it’s about. So then, does Kajillionaire make me want to be a kajillionaire? Not particularly, thank you, I’m perfectly fine with earning just enough cash to be comfortable. But if I dig a little deeper, what I really should be asking is: would I like to make that cheddar by running confidence games with my family? I can see the kookiness of the appeal, which I’m sure the Dyne family and July would be glad to hear. But at a certain point, I need a foundation of logic and economic stability in my life. I think Gina Rodriguez’s character can relate. She plays Melanie, an audience surrogate type who’s a big fan of the Ocean’s 11 films and gets recruited by the Dynes during a turbulent plane ride and just has plenty of fun with the whole theatricality of their schemes. But eventually things get a little sloppy and way too much to handle for anyone with a decent amount of emotional maturity.

The limits of my particular reviewing strategy are obvious with movies like Kajillionaire when it’s clear that they’re not exactly advertising the behavior on display. But July does have a knack for generating empathy in a way that can make you wonder if you actually would like us to emulate her lead characters as they navigate their wacky and thorny situations. For Old Dolio, continuing to live with her parents doesn’t just mean continuously navigating an existence outside the law, it also means a living situation that involves renting an empty office space that keeps getting flooded with bubbles. And it further means reckoning with an “apology” in the form of receiving a set of presents for all the birthdays her mom and dad missed. So let me refine my question once more: do I want to live life on the edge and then ultimately find the wherewithal to strike out on my own as much as is necessary for my own mental health (as Old Dolio ultimately must)? Maybe for a couple of hours.

Kajillionaire is Recommended If You Like: Weirdo names, Baggy tracksuits, Random bouts of limbo

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Tremors

‘Frozen II’ Only Makes Sense If You’re From Arendelle

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CREDIT: Disney

In Frozen II, Elsa hears a mysterious voice calling out to her from the forest. There’s some gee-gaw mystical explanation by the end about what that’s all about, but its ultimate purpose seems to be making her realize that she ought to be living on her own out in the forest. It’s hard not to read queer subtext into that, if you’re at all open to the possibility that there could be queer subtext in an animated Disney movie. So that’s how that goes, and meanwhile, there’s plenty more going on elsewhere, as Elsa and Anna stumble across some soldiers who have been fighting each other for decades while also trying to understand the important messages their parents have left for them. Plus, Kristoff attempts to propose to Anna while she keeps misinterpreting him in maddeningly over-the-top fashion, Olaf keeps telling us that water remembers, when ALL OF A SUDDEN, I’m so overwhelmed that I’m now doing a Phil Donahue impression (or at least an impression of Darrell Hammond’s Donahue impression). Arendelle is a busy place. Sometimes it’s exhausting.

I give Frozen II One Million Voices out of a Million and a Half Water Memories.