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Evan Rachel Wood’s Madonna in the ‘Weird Al’ Biopic Is Offensive


In theory, the Weird Al movie is like an antidote to the biopic and celebrity documentaries that now flood cinemas and streaming services year after year. Relying on the facts in a manner consistent with the subject’s undeniable popularity, Strange: The Story of Al Yankovic asks smart questions: What if the master of pop parody wasn’t some appropriately curious person? What if he became the biggest rock star in the world? What if Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” mimics Weird Al’s “Eat It,” rather than vice versa?

In theory interesting stuff. In fact, not so much. Freakwhich Yankovic co-wrote with Directed by Eric Appel (Happy or Dead, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), missing the cheery laughter of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. . Instead, we get exaggeration on a gag over and over — never more exaggerated or offensive than in an over-edited segment where Weird Al, played by Daniel Radcliffedating a mampho Machiavellian version of Madonna.

This particular Madonna (a kind of gum Evan Rachel Wood, playing football with Brooklyn’s fake credentials) learned of “Weird Alump”—a phenomenon that was supposed to benefit the reputation of any singer he parodied—on a news broadcast. ie. Hungry for Yancovician shine, she shows up on his doorstep with ’80s autographs, especially bracelets, black lace gloves and messy “Lucky Star” hair and wedding dresses in the movie “Like a Virgin”. Within minutes, Madonna was undressing Al on a couch, initiating the volcanic encounter one might expect from the author of a book called Sex.

At first it was a joke. Presenting Madonna as a famed car driver who knows a wise business move when she sees something not far from the truth, and Wood has enhanced her charm to an attitude level. too. However, as the film slips further from reality, what could have been a memorable cameo turns into an important extra episode. The gag went from winking and sarcasm to being aggressive against Madonna.

Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), a synergistic radio personality who helped Weird Al get started, describes her as an “evil, crooked succubus”, and the film backs him up: She’s flirting. Al province is strict for self-interest, insisting he did it instead of seeking necessary medical care, drugged him when he developed a habit of booze drinking, and plotted to take over the empire. Pablo Escobar’s Colombian drug cartel with Al being her number two.

The point is not that these events are fabricated. Either way, they were too ludicrous to belittle face value. In addition, biopics always misrepresent details for narrative purposes.

Some make them up entirely. Yellow, the psychological thriller Marilyn Monroe that premiered on Netflix in September, is too fictionalized to be labeled a biopic. (The film is based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates that blends fact, speculation, and outright invention, like a novelist’s right.)

Last year was enchanting Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as the troubled Princess Diana, imagines the British royals’ chilling Christmas celebrations from 1991, a private gathering that leaves plenty of room for conjecture. In 2007, Impressionism I’m not there told the life story of Bob Dylan using six distinct characters inspired by the folk singer’s burgeoning personality.

The tactics of the movies make sense. There is a lot of fodder in existence about Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and Bob Dylan; Why dramatize what we already know? The same can be said about Madonna, if only Freak didn’t reduce her to a one-note travesty of sexism. Despite — or because of — her popularity, it was it’s always trendy to hate Madonna (understand: The I Hate Madonna Handbook, an actual book published in 1994), and considers her a narcissistic vampire who is the laziest person on the internet. It’s especially tiresome in a movie about a guy who gets rich by editing words other people have written.

In a recent appearance on Tonight’s Show Stars Jimmy FallonYankovic speak he only met Madonna briefly. “I talked to her for 45 seconds backstage, so that’s the extent of the relationship,” he explains. Not even his Parody of “Like a Virgin” is Yankovic’s idea. It’s Madonna’s, in fact – and it’s probably not because she thinks she needs his “bump”.

According to Yankovic herself, Madonna one day wondered “when will Weird Al do ‘Like a Surgeon.'” After the comment was sent back to Yankovic, he did one thing he’d steer clear of: accepting the word. suggested by another performer. “I said, ‘Good idea, Madonna. Thanks,'” he told The New York Post in 2011. “Like a Surgeon” became one of his most popular songs.

This would be a fun tidbit to include in a biopic about someone who has an undeniably interesting claim to fame! (As we see, “The Surgeon” comes to Weird Al while he’s in the hospital.) Wood’s Madonna instead suffers a half-story involving the most notorious cocaine king this side of El. Chapo. It’s an aimless way to caricature the queen dominating the world of pop music, a mission Freak depicted as deceiving and spoiled for no apparent reason other than to prolong a joke past its breaking point.

If the celebrity biopic craze hadn’t been so saturated, perhaps Appel and Yankovic wouldn’t have felt the need to go their way. The category recently took home an Oscar for Jessica Chastain (Tammy Faye’s Eyes), Renee Zellweger (Judy), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), and Reese Witherspoon (Walk in the street) —And may soon do the same for the likes of Austin Butler (Elvis) and Ana de Armas (Yellow)—ripe for disruption. But subverting the familiar requires perspective and Freak useful.

If you want to know who Weird Al and Madonna really are, you won’t find the answer here. As one of the most scrutinized superstars in history, Madonna certainly deserves a quality roast here and there. Unfortunately, drawing her as a vulture doesn’t feel as tedious as everything else this movie has to offer.

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