Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Radcliffe’


108 minutes | No MPAA rating

For two thirds of its running time Roku’s “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is an amusing hoot, a parody of rock screen biographies that just happens to be about a guy who became famous by parodying famous rock songs.

If the movie limps to the finish line with an uninspired final 20 minutes … well, what comes before will leave most viewers in a charitable mood.

Penned by the real Al Yankovic and director Eric Appel, this elaborate spoof stars Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al…or at least Weird Al as run through the filter of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Rocket Man” and other tuneful biopics.

So in this version the accordion-pumping parodist dates a man-eating Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood, obviously having a ball), develops a drinking problem, alienates his few friends and struggles to gain the acceptance of his squeezebox-hating father (Toby Huss) and Betty Crockerish mother (Julianne Nicholson).

The film also introduces a deliriously lunatic alternative history in which Weird Al writes the music and lyrics to “Eat It,” only to have the song stolen and parodied by Michael Jackson as “Beat It.”

Daniel Radcliffe Evan Rachel Wood

Along the way viewers can play their own game of Where’s Waldo? with a dozen cameos (some lasting only seconds) by famous (and often heavily disguised) faces: Will Forte, Patton Oswalt, Michael McKean, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Conan O’Brien, Emo Philips, Jack Black, Quinta Brunson, Josh Groban, Seth Green. 

Also, special kudos to Rainn Wilson, who in top hat and tux perfectly embodies Dr. Demento, the cult-rock deejay who becomes young Al’s mentor (kind of a benevolent Colonel Parker).

The real Weird Al even shows up to portray a clueless record label executive.

Holding it all together is Radlicliffe, who perfectly walks the tightrope between silly and sincere. Seems Harry Potter has become a first-class comic performer.

The movie is, I believe, 30 minutes too long.  Maybe a last-act letdown was inevitable, since “Weird” shoots out of the starting gate and gallops madly throughout its first hour.  That’s a hard act to keep going.

| Robert W. Butler

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Daniel Radcliffe

“JUNGLE”  My rating: B

115 minutes | MPAA rating: R

If the movies have taught us anything it is that when privileged young people go carousing in the wilderness, bad shit happens.

“Jungle,” based on Yossi Ginsberg’s 2005 memoir, is jam packed with bad shit.

This grueling tale of survival finds Daniel Radcliffe once again going out on a limb (and distancing himself from his “Harry Potter” heritage) as Yossi, who has fled his native  Israel and grownup responsibilities for a year or so of backpacking around the globe.

Directed by Aussie auteur Greg McLean, best known for brutally violent horror films like “Wolf Creek” and “Rogue,” this real-life misadventure unfolds in Bolivia.

There Yossi (Radcliffe) falls in with a couple of fellow free spirits, the young American photographer Kevin Gayle (Alex Russell) and Marcus (Joel Jackson), a Swiss fellow described as having “the heart of a poet and the soul of a saint.”  These, of course, are qualities of absolutely no use in a South American rain forest.

Out of nowhere they are approached by Karl (Thomas Kretschnmann), an Austrian geologist who claims to know the jungle like the back of his hand. He has tales of lost Indian tribes and rivers peppered with gold nuggets. His semi-mystical rap is so convincing our trio agree to accompany Karl on a hike into the unknown.

Given that this takes place in 1981, well before cell phones, GPS or the Internet, it’s a given that when things go bad — and they soon do — there will be no easy way out.

There’s a sort of Lord of the  Flies element at work here.  Lovable Marcus is spooked by the jungle and soon suffers crippling physical distress. He’s slowing the progress of the other hikers, who hope to complete their trek before the arrival of the rainy season. Tempers flare. Things get nasty.

And then there’s Karl, who gleefully introduces the boys to the delights of monkey meat but seems curiously unschooled in other aspects of wilderness survival. He may not be able to swim, a real drawback once the decision is made to build a raft on which to float downstream.



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James McAvoy

James McAvoy


109 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“It’s alive!” rejoices Dr. Frankenstein (James McAvoy) as an ungodly mess of dead chimpanzee parts begins to stir on his operating table.

Too bad the same cannot be said of “Victor Frankenstein,” an elaborate production design in search of a movie.

The Frankenstein legend has so often been explored and exploited by filmmakers that screenwriter Max Landis and director Paul McGuigan deserve credit for at least trying something different.

This time around the “hero” is the hunchbacked assistant Igor, who far from being a demented moron is played by Daniel Radcliffe as a natural genius, albeit one who for his entire life has been the virtual prisoner of a traveling circus in Victorian England.

During performances this wretched nameless creature dons white makeup and is abused by the other clowns. In his off hours the hunchback studies anatomy and is the circus’ unofficial physician.

He’s rescued by medical student Victor Frankenstein, a hyperactive visionary who cures his new friend’s twisted spine, gives him a new identity (that of Igor, Frankenstein’s drug-addicted roommate who has been missing for months), and makes him a partner in his bizarro experiments.

The transformed Igor not only begins to experience something like normalcy, he strikes up a love relationship with the beautiful aerialist (“Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay) whom previously he worshipped from afar.

But Igor’s bliss keeps getting in the way of Frankenstein’s monomaniacal quest to give life to dead tissue.


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“HARRY POTTER AND THE  DEADLY HALLOWS: PART 2” My rating: B (Opening wide at 11:55 p.m. July 14)

130 minutes | PG-13

Imagine that you’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years and missed the whole Harry Potter thing.

You’ve no knowledge of the real-life rags-to-riches story of creator J.K. Rowling. Of the long lines of readers awaiting midnight sales of the latest installment. Of the worldwide mania. Of the rise in childhood literacy. The theme park.

Imagine that the slate has been wiped clean. You’re a total Harry virgin.

Under those circumstances, if you were taken to a theater and shown one of the “Harry Potter” movies, what would you make of it?

Be honest, now. (more…)

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