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Weird Al Yankovic - The Videos

review by Ren C.


Starring Weird Al Yankovic

Running Time: 74 minutes

Studio: Image Entertainment/Scotti Bros.

Retail Price: $29.99

Specs: Full-Screen, Color and Black & White, Dolby Stereo

Weird Al Yankovic is one of the long-standing, and in my opinion, funniest parody artists in music. He is certainly the best recognized and best selling. It's hard to believe, but he has been releasing albums for almost two decades, dating back to his college years. This compilation brings together all the videos that he produced through 1996, twenty-two in all. Through these videos, we get a sense of Yankovic's development, and the development of popular culture in general. Part of the fun of this collection is remembering the original song that inspired the parody.

Over the course of the twenty-two videos, there are some inspired moments, and some admittedly low ones as well. We start with "Ricky", which is a parody of Toni Basil's 80 classic "Mickey", turned into what could have been an "I Love Lucy" outtake. Next up is "I Love Rocky Road", coming from Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll".

"Eat It" is perhaps the best-known Yankovic song, providing a hilarious send up of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". "I Lost On Jeopardy" is Al's recounting of his game show nightmare, and an apropos parody of Greg Kihn's "Jeopardy". "This Is The Life" is from the soundtrack to the little-seen movie "Johnny Dangerously", which starred Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito. It, as with most of Yankovic's originals, doesn't quite stand up to the parodies.

Thankfully, we jump right back into them, this time with Al's shot at Madonna, "Like A Surgeon." "One More Minute" is a fairly morose love ballad, actually, more like a break-up song. Again, it suffers the Yankovic original curse, with the video not being enough to redeem the song.

"Dare To Be Stupid" is one of my personal favorites, and is the exception to the rule with Yankovic originals. This video screams 80s, and in this case that is definitely a compliment. "Living With A Hernia" is great poke at James Brown's "Living In America", both in nature of the song, and of the video.

"Christmas at Ground Zero" is one of the funniest Christmas songs I have ever heard, and has to be seen to be believed. Rest assured, you won't be hearing it on your local radio station this Christmas, not unless they have a bit of a sadistic streak. "Fat" is our second shot at Michael Jackson, this time sending up "Bad", and doing so quite well. "Beverly Hillbillies/Money For Nothing" is an amazingly accurate recreation of, obviously, Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing."

"UHF" is the title track from the soundtrack of the same name. The movie, which has become a cult classic, poked fun at many different assets of pop culture, and the video does the same, taking shots at, among others, Prince and Guns N' Roses.

The latter section of the presentation contains Al's 90s work. "Smells Like Nirvana" was arguably his comeback song, and does an excellent job of parodying Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is another of Yankovic's morose love ballads. "Jurassic Park" is a great tie-in to the movie, set to the music of "Macarthur Park."

"Bedrock Anthem" is a two in one parody of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, hitting both "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away" in one song. "Headline News" is the ultimate time capsule for its day, hitting both the major news story and one-hit wonders Crash Test Dummies (remember them?) "Amish Paradise" is a controversial send-up of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise", and is certainly funnier. "Gump" is a great improvement on the original, "Lump" by the Presidents of the United States of America.

The final video is something of a strange inclusion. It is merely the credits to the Leslie Nielsen movie, "Spy Hard", but without any of the actual credits. Apparently, Yankovic got the rights to the sequence, but without including any of the actual actor's names, what have you. It's very strange to view the sequence as it appears here, and then to see the actual movie. Still, the song is a great parody of the typical Bond opening song.

Needless to say, for any Weird Al fan, this is just about the ultimate collection. The only things missing here are his two most recent videos (which appear on the "Weird Al Live" DVD).

Basically, these videos look slightly better than they did on television. Obviously, the more recently released videos look the best, with the older ones showing some wear, but certainly not enough to make them unpleasant. There is a small amount of grain, but aside from that, they stand up very well for being almost two decades old. All the videos are full-screen, with the exception of "Spy Hard", which is directly from the movie, so is in widescreen.

While I would have loved to see this in Dolby 5.1, stereo is what we get. It's certainly acceptable for these videos, as none really are system workouts anyway. Strangely enough, there is a brochure included with the DVD that details the different audio formats.

Nothing. There are some notes within the case of the DVD regarding when each video was made, what it parodies, and who directed it, but aside from that, nada. Subtitles, a little behind-the-scenes footage, or even commentary by Yankovic would have been nice, but having all these videos in one place, I take what I can get.

Like I stated earlier, just having all these videos in one place is fantastic. Fans of Weird Al should drop whatever they're doing right now, run out, pick this up and enjoy. Sadly, if you're not a Weird Al fan, there's not a lot here to entice you to pick this one up. The audio and video is about what you'd expect from a collection like this, and features are non-existent. High recommendation for Weird Al fans, recommendation to rent for non-fans.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)




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