Two movies, several SPOILERS.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – I was honestly a little nervous to watch this because I thought it might not be very good. I mean, I knew it was a parody biopic that mocked the over-the-top conventions of the genre and got all but some basic facts about Al’s life wrong, but that could have gone more than one way. I did end up thinking it was funny, though. I didn’t laugh out loud that much, but it was definitely entertaining. The idea originated with a Funny or Die sketch advertising such a biopic, so I guess you could say it was defictionalized, in a way. There was already a fake documentary, The Compleat Al, released by CBS back in 1985, which mixed actual biographical details with jokes, music videos, and promotional material from his then-new third album, Dare to Be Stupid. I own a copy on DVD, but I haven’t watched it since the one time in the nineties. I remember it mostly being kind of slow, but with a few really funny moments. Weird invents absurd drama for Al’s life story, playing on how he generally comes across as an uncontroversial, clean-living sort of guy. His parents were the ones who got him into accordion lessons, but in the movie, his father is inexplicably against them and song parodies. He also has a torrid affair with Madonna (who hopes his parodying one of her songs would mean a bump in her record sales), goes on a drunken rant on stage, writes “Eat It” while on an acid trip, and kills drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in a ridiculous action sequence similar to the Rambo bit in UHF. When they did a joke about “Eat It” being an original composition of Al’s, I wondered if they were just going to pretend Michael Jackson didn’t exist, but instead they had him release “Beat It” AFTER Al’s version. One interesting scene had Al attend Dr. Demento’s party, where most of the guests were other funny or just kind of strange celebrities, many planned by current comedians: Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol, Paul F. Tompkins as Gallagher, Jack Black as Wolfman Jack, and Emo Philips as Salvador Dali, who plays a fish like a violin during “Another One Rides the Bus.”
And Al himself has a role as one of the Scotti Brothers, the executives who ran Al’s old record label. I have to wonder if Al is planning on coming out with any new music, or if he’s more or less retired in that respect, although he still tours (I saw him at Carnegie Hall last year). I think the end credits song from the movie is the first thing he’s released since “The Hamilton Polka” five years ago. Not that he has to by any means; he’s been active for so long as it is. I’m just curious.
Spookies – I remember being somewhat intrigued by the title and the poster for this movie, which came out in 1986, but I hadn’t heard of it until more recently. It’s an expectedly cheesy film about a bunch of people who break into a seemingly abandoned mansion because they think it’s a good place to have a party. An old sorcerer uses various monsters to kill them all off, which presumably keeps his wife alive somehow. It’s one of those plots where it seems like they’re trying to give it a story beyond monsters killing people, but it’s really difficult to follow. At the end, the bride, who actually hates the sorcerer, unsuccessfully tries to escape. What I did like about this film was the monsters themselves, and some of the props. There are some men made out of dirt (who make fart sounds for some reason), a goblin with a lizard-like body, and a woman who turns into a spider.
The weird Ouija board and the chess set that the sorcerer uses also look pretty cool.