The Compleat Al (1985) — The semi-fake life of Weird Al Yankovic

“Some called it simple. Others called it stupid.”

Justin’s rating: Where the musical revolution began

Justin’s review: The phenomenon known as “Weird Al Yankovic” has never been confined solely to the music scene. Yankovic starred in his own movie, UHF, in 1989, had his own TV show in the ’90s, cameo’d in many other films and TV shows, was the subject of a VH1 Behind the Music segment, provided voice work for various cartoons, wrote a book, and so on. Perhaps one of his most curious early projects was a documentary about his life… virtually at the start of his career.

Which was weird, but that’s how Al rolls.

The Compleat Al rolled out on Showtime in 1985, right as Weird Al was releasing only his third album. It’s a sort-of true, sort-of fake biopic of Al’s life from birth to fame. It’s also an thinly disguised platform to show all of Weird Al’s music videos that he’d made at that point, including “Eat It” and “Dare to Be Stupid.” I mean, he hadn’t lived and accomplished all that much quite yet, so I guess I don’t blame him for padding this out with the music that made him famous.

As you might expect, The Compleat Al is unapologetically dorky and silly, a dad joke stretched to two hours. We get interviews with Al’s alleged teachers (who were certainly not paid actors), scenes of Al working various jobs, poodle jokes, his takeover of MTV (as AL TV), and moments at Al’s concerts.

I remember watching this a couple of decades ago and thinking, “Even as a huge Weird Al fan, I don’t think I ever need to see this again.” And even though I made myself out to be a liar by viewing it a second time for this review, I still feel the same. It served a specific purpose at a specific time in Weird Al’s career — mainly, to be a cheap way to promote him on cable TV — but doesn’t offer a lot that you can’t get elsewhere (particularly his music videos). And, let’s be honest, a lot of the best Weird Al songs were yet to come when this was released.

There are a few good belly laughs here — it’s always fun to watch Weird Al dunk on himself — but UHF 2 this is not. It’s kind of a relic of Yankomobilia for the die-hard fans, but the weird decision to straddle the line between actual history and goofy revisionism resulted in a very mixed bag. But hey, enough of this review, it’s time for a music video!

One comment

  1. Did you do this because the new Weird Al biopic was announced and starring Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe? (https://deadline.com/2022/01/daniel-radcliffe-to-play-weird-al-yankovic-in-roku-biopic-from-funny-or-die-1234913838/) Or was this just a happy accident. By the way, the film is going to be directed by the dude that directed this trailer for such a biopic about a month ago, and I’m already sold on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcNuiri2dV0

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