‘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

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Glass’ is an Off-Kilter But Rewarding Examination of Superpowered Beings

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CREDIT: Jessica Kourkounis/Universal Pictures

This review was originally published on News Cult in January 2019.

Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Running Time: 128 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Popping Veins, Sharp Objects, and Bodies Thrown Violently

Release Date: January 18, 2019

With Glass, M. Night Shyamalan is attempting a sort of Grand Unified Theory of Superheroes. According to this particular model, the stories told in comic books are based on the exploits of real people. We only think they are myths because they have had to live in the shadows. I’m pretty sure that Shyamalan does not actually believe that there are superheroes and supervillains in the real world, but the wonder that infuses those stories is very real. It is what drives us to understand the unbelievable. It is also what drives Shyamalan to deconstruct the entire superhero genre at its most atomic level.

Picking up nearly two decades after the events of Unbreakable and soon after those of Split, Glass kicks off with Bruce Willis’ super-strong guardian David Dunn tracking down James McAvoy’s ravenous multi-personality villain Kevin Wendell Crumb. They are both subdued by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who specializes in patients with delusions that they are superpowered, a condition that she assures us many people are suffering from. They end up at the same institution that has been housing Sam Jackson’s Elijah Price, a.k.a. Mr. Glass, the man who engineered a series of terrorist attacks to uncover a superhuman like David. Also returning are Spencer Treat Clark as David’s son Joseph, Charlayne Woodard as Elijah’s mother, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey, Kevin’s surviving kidnapped victim. Oddly enough, most of the film takes place within the institution, making this mainly a battle of wits between Dr. Ellie and her charges. It is a surprisingly talky approach to what is ostensibly an action film, but it is profoundly part and parcel of what Shyamalan is doing.

As Glass reveals what it is all about, much of the dialogue turns into language that only ever appears in comic books. That is to say, it is the language of comic book narration, of the variety that goes “the bad guys are teaming up” and “this is an origin story, but not for the character you thought.” Not only do real people not talk like this, neither do movie characters, and neither do comic book characters. The only actor who manages to deliver any of it with any gravitas is Jackson. Clark, Woodard, and Taylor-Joy, on the other hand, sound as unnatural as possible. However, as disorienting as all that is, I am not eager to write this element off as a failure.

The film’s structure also leads me to question some things, particularly the revelation of Dr. Ellie’s true nature. I did not find it to be a huge shock, and I wonder if Shyamalan would have benefited from revealing it to the audience earlier to really explore the consequences of what her character represents. But even with the reveal at the end, that point can retroactively click into gear. And as for all the unnatural acting, I could say that maybe that is the point, and that this is a highly affected world, or at least these are highly affected people. That would be generous, though, especially considering that Clark, Woodard, and Taylor-Joy sounded like much more typical humans in Unbreakable and Split. But even if I choose to have the least generous interpretation of every questionable element, I remain utterly fascinated by Glass. This is not Shyamalan at his most straightforwardly powerful, but it is also not him at his most insufferable. He is on a cloud of thinking that most people would never think to go to, but he has found insights there that I am very happy we now have.

Glass is Recommended If You Like: The Village, The Happening, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Grade: 4 out of 5 Origin Stories