DVD Review: "Weird Al" Yankovic's The Compleat Al

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Any child of the ‘80s who grew up obsessed with “Weird Al” Yankovic is bound to feel a rush of nostalgic excitement at the appearance The Compleat Al on DVD. This long out-of-print, previously VHS- and Laserdisc-only release tells “the amazing and almost-true life story of a rock and roll legend.” What seemed like over-the-top humor in 1985 (i.e. Yankovic being a revered superstar) might now seem totally plausible for those young enough to have never known a pop culture landscape that didn’t include “Weird Al.” Despite his massive popularity in the wake of “Eat It” and other hit spoofs, it was widely assumed that Yankovic’s shelf-life would be brief.

Nearly 30 years later, Shout! Factory’s reissue of The Compleat Al (it’s peculiar spelling a nod to the then-popular, now-obscure documentary The Compleat Beatles) only underlines “Weird Al”’s status as a true pop culture icon. Shout! releases it alongside the Blu-ray debut of Yankovic’s cult favorite UHF. The mockumentary opens with one of its best gags, a twist on the typical anti-piracy warnings that appeared at the start of VHS tapes. It’s a feature-length production, loaded with music videos (although you might say “padded” these days, since the videos have long been available on The Ultimate Video Collection DVD).

Aside from the music videos (which include Yankovic’s earliest efforts, such as “Eat It,” “Like a Surgeon,” “I Love Rocky Road,” “Ricky”), the content is somewhat uneven. Some of it holds up pretty well, such as a sketch involving Yankovic approaching Michael Jackson (portrayed by an actor) for his blessing to spoof “Beat It.” Other bits, like Yankovic watching street performers in Japan, aren’t all that interesting. Two montages of “Al-TV” bits (Yankovic occasionally “took over” the airwaves of MTV back in the day) will offer a dose of warm nostalgia for viewers of a certain age, while they may prove perplexing to curious younger viewers who don’t remember the network’s early years.

Unfortunately there are no special features to speak of, with only a pair of trailers as supplements. But for “Weird Al” Yankovic fans, Shout! Factory’s long-awaited reissue, along with the UHF Blu-ray, will be a certain must-own.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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