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Film / The Compleat Al

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"Who does he think he is?"

The Compleat Al is a 1985 mockumentary about the life of "Weird Al" Yankovic. It was partially written by Yankovic and directed by Jay Levey. It stars Al Yankovic As Himself, Kevin Seymour as Al's agent Barry Cohen, and Bill Martin as the narrator.

The film originated because CBS Home Video asked Yankovic to make a long form music video. Al and his team expanded the idea into a mockumentary that doubles as a Framing Device for Al's various music videos. An hour-long version premiered on August 7, 1985 on the Showtime network before the full film was released a month later.

The title of the film is a parody from the 1982 documentary The Compleat Beatles.

While it was difficult to find for years, the film is available now on DVD, YouTube, and major digital streaming services.

Not to be confused with Al's other 100% accurate, unadulterated, and completely verified correct biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

Tropes in The Compleat Al:

  • Ancient Astronauts: Invoked in Al's explanation for how aliens brought rock music to Earth.
  • Artistic License – History: Needless to say, this mockumentary plays fast and loose with real-life facts.
  • As Himself: About half of the film's cast are people playing fictionalized versions of themselves — these include Al's parents Nick and Mary Yankovic, guitarist Steve Cropper, Dr. Demento, Dick Clark, producers Phil Ramone and Rick Derringer, and Al's band members Steve Jay, Jim West, and Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz.
  • Avant-Garde Music: Al is said to have gone into a spiral and created an experimental album ("Me Myself And I") dealing with it. Eventually, his band snaps him out of it by dunking his head in a vat of yogurt.
  • Big Blackout: Al's high school metal shop teacher tells an anecdote about how Al's wiener roaster blacked out everything in a six-block radius when it was plugged in.
  • Born in an Elevator: The narration says Al was born in an elevator at St. Vitus Hospital.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of the movie, Al addresses the audience directly and thanks them for their support... as only Al can.
  • Buccaneer Broadcaster: Al becomes this when he hijacks MTV with his own "Al TV" segment.
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Outside of the Greek Theater, a vendor offers photos with an Al impersonator for $2 each. When the real Al walks by, the vendor shoves him in the impersonator's place, then starts offering bystanders photos with Al for $5 each.
  • Chick Magnet: Playgirl magazine declares Al "Year's Biggest Hunk".
  • Comical Translation: When Al checks into a hotel in Tokyo, he uses a guidebook to talk to the staff. Unfortunately, his guidebook is in Spanish.
  • Completely Unnecessary Translator: When Al appears in Japan as a guest on a radio show, the hostess asks him a question in Japanese. Al's translator repeats the question to him in Japanese, prompting Al to confess "I can't understand a word you're saying."
  • Costume-Test Montage: After Al signs a contract with Ronzoni Records, Barry takes Al costume-shopping to find Al's "look". They go through a half-dozen musical Expys before settling on the same Hawaiian shirt Al started with.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: The movie begins with an anti-piracy notice that warns of the dangers of unlawful duplication, such as discoloration of fine upholstery, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, high blood pressure, the spontaneous combustion of pets, civil unrest, meteorological disturbances, volcanic eruptions, and the Earth falling out of its orbit and plunging into the sun.
    "The producers of this program assume no liability for any of the consequences resulting from your stupid, unthinking, greedy and careless attempt to deprive them of income."
  • Disappointed in You: Every time Al's parents appear, they start off complimenting him and his life... before shortly veering into disappointment at his present state.
  • Egopolis: After he becomes successful, Al lives in a large white mansion named "Yankland".
  • Fanservice: The model in the edible underwear product demonstration.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Ronzoni Records is one for the real-life Scotti Bros. record company.
  • Foreign Queasine: When Al's guide in Japan suggests some local dishes, Al rejects them with a loud "yuck!" They end up going to McDonalds instead.
  • Framing Device: At times, the mockumentary serves to segue into one of Al's music videos or "Al TV" specials.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The narrator sneaks one in an Unusual Euphemism:
  • Hard-Work Montage: There's one when the crew is setting up Al's hotel room, set to the song "Midnight Star".
  • Honest John's Dealership: Outside of Al's concert at the Greek Theater are several salespeople selling tacky souvenirs and questionable merchandise.
    "These are your actual partially-eaten hot dogs by Al or members of his immediate entourage, complete with buns and condiments."
  • Hopeless Auditionees: A number of people audition for Al's band, all of whom are told "Thank you" and sent on their way.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: According to the narrator, Mary Yankovic spends her evenings repeatedly folding and unfolding clothes, while Nick Yankovic's hobbies include filming freeway traffic.
  • Instant Sedation: Al knocked himself out at the nasal decongestant factory after sampling a few bottles of the product.
  • Lazy Bum: The punk rock banjo player sings a song about not wanting to do his laundry and trying to get his lover to do it for him.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Near the end of the movie, Al's (fictional) director, producer, and record executive discuss plans to finish the video and wrap up production, just in time for Al to walk in and start throwing out some more outlandish ideas. Cut to the music video for "Dare To Be Stupid," which incorporates all of the ideas just discussed.
  • Male Gaze: Al is dumbstruck at the model demonstrating the edible underwear product.
  • Mockumentary: The broad strokes are true, but the details are not.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The master tapes for Al's experimental album "Me Myself And I" are accidentally erased by an airport metal detector.
  • Old, Dark House: Michael Jackson's home is portrayed as this, complete with dark and stormy weather when Al visits.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Apparently, Michael Jackson is secretly a werewolf.
  • Porn Stash: Barry, Al's agent, accidentally leaves "Babes in Bondage" in his office VCR.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: At one point in Michael Jackson's home, Al is watched through a painting with glowing eye beams.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Invoked by Ebony magazine with the cover "Weird Al: The Next Best Thing To Being Black".
  • Rambunctious Italian: The Ronzoni brothers are portrayed this way. They even compare Ronzoni Records to a pizza, with their artists as the toppings.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: The film starts with Al setting an accordion on fire, a la Jimi Hendrix.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever Al is photographed with a date, she throws up her hands to cover her face.
    • Al's agent Barry Cohen has a penchance for odd Mixed Metaphors, ending with "ba-da-beep, ba-da-bop, ba-da-boom."
  • Self-Deprecation: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gag, a Variety headline reads "Fun Zone 'Stinks Like A Fish' Says Tartikoff"
  • Special Thanks: The credits give special thanks to Ken Rossnote  and Arthur Mannnote  "who dared to be stupid", and Michael Jackson and Frank Dileonote  for their support and "unfailing sense of humor".
  • Stylistic Suck: The "State of Shock" music video, which consists of Harvey Leeds at Epic Records chanting the words over a drum machine backbeat.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Al's audience with Michael Jackson is interrupted by Michael's pet tiger and chimpanzee.