Roku’s first original movie “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” debuts

After much anticipation, Roku’s first original film “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” has finally debuted around the world, streaming for free on the platform’s ad-supported service the Roku Channel.

The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as “Weird Al” Yankovich, an eccentric artist and musician best known for remixing popular songs into hilarious parodies that have delighted music fans for several decades.

The movie is a parody of the musician biopic genre that was popularized by “Bohemian Rhapsody” and emulated by follow-up films like “Rocketman” and “Elvis,” to mixed success. There’s nothing true about this “true story,” other than it promises to be truly entertaining and hilarious.

In some ways, a parody of a biopic seems perfect for “Weird Al” Yankovich, and the musician was happy to play along by appearing in the film itself, according to an updated trailer screened before and after Roku’s recent quarterly earnings call.

There’s quite a roster of other A-list actors and celebrities who appear in the film, including Patton Oswald, Jack Black, Rainn Wilson, Will Forte, Conan O’Brien (who — surprise! — does not play Conan O’Brian), Quinta Brunson and Evan Rachel Wood.

“Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” will be released on Friday, November 4. A Roku spokesperson told The Desk that the film drops exactly at midnight in a viewer’s time zone, so streamers on the East Coast have a three-hour head start compared to those on the West Coast (no spoilers, please!).

Naturally, if you use a Roku device like the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, Roku Ultra, Roku Express 4K or any number of Roku-powered smart TV sets, you already have access to the Roku Channel.

If you don’t have a Roku device, you might still be able to get free access to the Roku Channel and “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story,” but it might require downloading a free app or casting from a smartphone or tablet. Here are your options:

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on Amazon Fire TV?

Yes, if you have any version of the Amazon Fire TV stick or the Amazon Fire TV Cube, you can watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” for free on the Roku Channel.

First, head to the Amazon app store on your Fire TV device. Next, do a search for “Roku Channel,” and download the free Roku Channel app.

Once the Roku Channel app installs, simply open the app and look for the movie. If you don’t see a tile with “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story,” press the up button on your remote until you see a tile that says “Search.” Click the Search tile, then use your remote to spell out “Weird.” The movie should appear from there.

Don’t have an Amazon Fire TV device? Amazon is currently offering deep discounts on its streaming sticks, which also offer access to Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus and other services. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K normally costs $50, but is on sale for $25 with free Prime shipping for members. Don’t need 4K video, and want something a little more basic? The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite costs $5 less, priced at $20.

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on Apple TV?

Maybe!

Currently, Apple TV doesn’t have an app for the Roku Channel, and it isn’t clear if Roku will ever offer one for the Apple TV itself. However, if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can download the free Roku app, where the Roku Channel is available. From that app, simply start the movie, then use your iPhone or iPad to “Airplay” the film to your Apple TV device. You can find instructions on using Airplay here.

If that sounds like too much of a hassle, there’s at least one other option: Buy a cheap Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick, where you can watch the Roku Channel for free, without messing around with smartphone or tablets. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite, Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick Plus are all good, affordable options. Don’t want to wait for your device? Pick up the Roku Express at Walmart for less than $20 today, or the Roku Streaming Stick 4K at Best Buy for $25. (Prices valid for online ordering with pick-up at a retail store, and were accurate as of November 7.)

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on Android TV or Google TV?

The short answer is: No. The long answer is, it’s complicated.

While there is a Roku app for Android phones and tablets, Roku has not released a version of the Roku Channel for Android TV or Google TV, which means users of Android-powered streamers like the Chromecast with Google TV, TiVo Stream 4K, Nvidia Shield and Walmart’s Onn-branded Android TV devices.

That said, if you have an Android device, you may be able to download a third-party screen-sharing app to cast videos from the Roku Channel to your Android TV or Google TV streamer. These apps can be unpredictable, though, and you might not have the best viewing experience compared to those who have streaming devices with native access to the Roku Channel app. Still, it’s worth a try, and if you’d like to give it a go, you can find instructions on how to screen-share from your Android phone or tablet to your Android TV here.

Also, some smart TV sets powered by Android also have access to Apple’s Airplay feature. These include most Sony Bravia TV sets and some higher-end TCL, Hisense and Element models powered by Android TV or Google TV. Check the manual of your television set for instructions.

If all of that sounds like too much trouble, pick up a cheap Roku device at Walmart or Best Buy for less than $25, then plug the device into an available port on your TV set.

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on Samsung TV?

If you have a newer-model Samsung TV powered by Tizen OS, you can download the Roku Channel and stream “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” for free.

Press the Home button on your remote, then navigate to the tile that says “Search” and press the center button on your remote’s navigation pad. When the search menu loads, type “roku.” At the top of the screen, the first tile should say “Roku Channel.” Navigate to that tile, then press the center button. Follow the instructions to download the app.

To open the Roku Channel, press the home button on your remote, then switch to the Roku Channel using the left or right buttons on the navigation pad. If you have a lot of apps on your TV, the Roku Channel may not be visible at first; keep pressing the right button until it shows up. Open the app and start streaming the movie!

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on an LG webOS TV?

The answer is, it depends.

Roku has not developed a Roku Channel app specifically for LG TVs, so you won’t be able to find the app in the LG Content Store.

However, most newer-model LG TVs sold within the last few years have Apple’s Airplay feature built into the set, and if you have an Apple iPad or iPhone, you might be able to use that to stream the Roku Channel and “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on your TV set.

Scroll up to “Can I watch Weird: The Al Yankovich Story on Apple TV?” in this post and follow the instructions there.

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on a Vizio SmartCast TV?

Possibly!

Vizio SmartCast TVs offer dozens of popular apps, but the Roku Channel isn’t one of them. At least not yet. So you won’t be able to stream the Roku Channel or “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” through a native app on the Vizio SmartCast platform.

However, nearly all Vizio SmartCast-powered TV sets sold within the last few years have Apple’s Airplay feature built in, so if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you might be able to download the Roku Channel app for free and stream “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” to your TV set that way.

Scroll up to “Can I watch Weird: The Al Yankovich Story on Apple TV?” in this post and follow the instructions there.

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on an Android phone or tablet?

If you have an Android phone or tablet like those made by Samsung, TCL, OnePlus, LG, Blu, Nokia or the Google Pixel, you’re in luck: The Roku Channel is available from the official (and free!) Roku app on the Google Play Store. After downloading the app to your device, open the app, then press the “Roku Channel” button at the bottom.

Can I watch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on an Apple iPhone or iPad?

Yes, the Roku app for iPhone and iPad includes access to the Roku Channel. You can download the free Roku app for your iPhone or iPad from the Apple App Store; just click or tap this link to open the Apple App Store on your iPhone or iPad device.

If you don’t see “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story,” use the Roku app’s search feature to find the film.

If you have an Apple TV or a smart TV with Apple’s Airplay feature, you can use your iPhone or ipad to Airplay the movie to your Apple TV or Airplay-enabled TV set. Scroll up to “Can I watch Weird: The Al Yankovich Story on Apple TV?” in this post and follow the instructions there.

Maybe I should just get a Roku device. What are my options?

Roku is one of the most-popular streaming TV platforms in the United States, and for a good reason: The company built its streaming operating system from the ground up, and it focuses entirely on television, so you know you’re going to get a good experience.

Roku device have access to the free Roku Channel — which includes “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” — as well as hundreds of popular free and subscription-based streaming apps. Those apps include Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Paramount Plus, Peacock, HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, AMC Plus, Epix and more. Cord-cutters can also stream live cable channels with a subscription to Philo, Frndly TV, Sling TV, Vidgo, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Fubo TV or DirecTV Stream. And there’s plenty of free streaming apps, too: In addition to the Roku Channel, you can watch free movies and TV shows on Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo, Peacock (limited selection), STIRR, RedBox TV, Crackle, Plex and others.

Roku devices are among the easiest to install and set-up: They plug into any HDMI port on the back of your TV using an HDMI cable, which is included with some Roku models. Roku streaming sticks plug straight into the HDMI port, without any additional cables needed, and can even be powered using your TV’s USB port, if it has one (though Roku recommends using an AC adapter, which is included with all models). Each Roku model also comes with a voice-enabled remote control, which makes searching for and playing movies and TV shows even easier.

There’s a Roku model for every budget — from the big spender who must have the latest bells and whistles, to the savvy shopper who just wants a basic streaming device.

Keep things simple with the Roku Express HD, available at Walmart and Best Buy for $30 (on sale for $18 as of this writing), or bump things up to 4K video and vivid HDR color with the Roku Express 4K for $35.

Those who want a cleaner install with the latest features should check out the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, which hides nicely behind the TV set and comes with a voice-powered remote control with TV power and volume control for $50 (currently on sale at Best Buy for $25). If you’re the type of person who has to have the latest and greatest, splurge on the Roku Ultra, which includes a rechargeable voice-powered remote control with a headphone jack for private listening at $100 (currently on sale at Best Buy for $70).

If you’re still watching VHS tapes on an old Sony Trinitron tube TV or similar, it just might be time for an upgrade. Consider a Roku-powered TCL TV, which can be purchased at Best Buy for as little as $200, depending on the feature and screen size you want. (If you don’t mind waiting for shipping, you can usually score a good deal on a Roku-powered TV at Amazon, too.)

No matter which Roku device you choose, you get access to Roku’s clean interface and hundreds of streaming apps. Catch “Weird: The Al Yankovich Story” on the Roku Channel for free on Friday, November 4 at midnight.