Freak: The Story of Al Yankovic opened the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival, where hopeful audiences began lining up more than two hours before the midnight screening, some wearing their best Hawaiian print shirts and curly wigs. There were also at least two accordions waiting in line.
Freak“Weird Al” Yankovic co-wrote with director Eric Appel (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Silicon Valley) and produced, starring Daniel Radcliffe as a subversive version of Yankovic, seen in the topless, whiskey-drinking trailer onstage and entertaining Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood) in between accordion riffs.
The feature-length film is about a decade-old fake trailer posted by Funny or Die, which stars Aaron Paul as Al and Olivia Wilde as Madonna. At the premiere, Appel compared the film to bio-musical works like Rocket Manas Forest Gump and Boogie night.
The noisy screening featured an audience who sang and clapped along to Yankovic songs that featured onscreen such as “I Love Rocky Road” and “Amish Paradise”. After the screening, Yankovic (in a Hawaiian print shirt), Appel, Yankovic, Wood, and Radcliffe took to the stage at the Royal Alexandra Theater in Toronto to a standing ovation.
Are from Freak released its first visual with Radcliffe in a Yankovic costume and holding an accordion, the film was highly anticipated. “It was a very easy conversation,” Radcliffe said, agreeing to act as the parody singer-songwriter.
On screen, one sees Radcliffe masterfully playing Yankovic’s signature instrument that Yankovic chooses. “I did what I could,” laughs the actor. “It’s a very difficult instrument.” In preparation for the film, Radcliffe received video tutorials via email from Yankovic that he said he would “appreciate for the rest of my life”.
“And I had to be in the trailer next to him while he practiced,” Wood interjected amid loud laughter from the audience. But Wood isn’t the only one dealing with his musical style. “About a month between me learning the phrase ‘My Bologna’ and the chorus so that my girlfriend had to live in hell forever,” says Radcliffe.
The film features an original song by Yankovic playing at the end, in which he sings about the song that was eligible for the Oscars. The Grammy Award winner noted that they are currently in talks with the studios about the release of the film’s soundtrack, including the original soundtrack. When asked if there will be a sequel to the comedy, Yankovic replied: “I think there must be.”
Freak will premiere on Roku on November 4.