Al's Brain (partially found 3D educational short film; 2009)
Al's Brain (also known as Al's Brain: A 3-D Journey Through the Human Brain) is a 3D short film directed, written by and starring musician "Weird Al" Yankovic that was first displayed on July 16th, 2009 at the 2009 Orange County Fair in Orange County, California. The short was produced on a budget of $2.5 million, and was designed to be educational in nature, teaching viewers about the design, structure, and various functions of the human brain.
The short was 10 minutes in length, and featured a mix of live-action and computer animation, showing Al interacting with animated characters such as Billy the Brain and Norm the Owl as he answers questions about the human brain while also making humorous commentary, such as explaining how we have as much chance of fully understanding the human brain as we do the final 20 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many of these questions would be asked in "man on the street" style interview segments with celebrities like Paul McCartney and Fabio, with other celebrities such as Patton Oswald and Tim & Eric appearing elsewhere in the short in other cameo roles.
Alongside explanations of the structure of the human brain, Al's Brain is also known to have discussed the life of Phineas Gage, an American railroad worker who infamously survived an 1848 accident in which an iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, with Al portraying a fictionalized version of Gage named "Phineaus Cage" in the short.
The short ends with Al performing "The Brain Song", a song written specifically written for Al's Brain that details the four lobes of the human brain and the function they each serve. Al would state in an interview with the Orange County Register that the writing of this song was by far the most research intensive part of production, remarking that "I pretended like I took a class in the working of the brain and this is my final exam, this is my thesis paper."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic - Himself/Phineaus Cage
- Paul McCartney - First Man on the Street
- Fabio - Second Man on the Street
- Patton Oswald - Co-worker
- Thomas Lennon - Co-worker
- Tim Heidecker - Brain Stretcher
- Eric Wareheim - Brain Stretcher
- Billy West - Norm the Owl/Billy the Brain (voice)
- Michael William Arnold - Timmy
- Bob Bancroft - Norm Koslovsky
- Ezra Buzzington - Homeless Guy (uncredited)
Al's mother-in-law also appears in the short in an unknown role. Al had also offered a role in the short to rapper Coolio (who's 1995 single "Gangsta's Paradise" Al had previously parodied as "Amish Paradise"), but Coolio declined.
Al's Brain would first be displayed at the 2009 Orange County Fair from July 16th to August 5th, 2009. The short was shown within a hangar building (referred to as "The Brainitorium") at the end of the fair's main hall, with a merchandise tent and a sand sculpture of Al and his brain being placed close by. Upon entering, attendees would be given 3D glasses in a waiting room containing many optical illusions, brain teasers, and pieces of trivia related to the human brain and various intelligent people from history. A short film would also be shown within this waiting room, which was a parody of educational films from the 1950s that lectured audiences on the horrors of brain freeze. Upon entering the screening room, a brief interlude would be shown in which Al displays the 3D effects while asking questions such as "do we really use only 10% of our brain?" and "can a person survive with a metal stake driven through their skull?", at which point the short would begin.
Al's Brain would prove to be immensely popular during its initial showing, drawing a total audience of 250,000 people, and following the conclusion of the 2009 Orange County Fair, it would later be showcased at the 2009 Puyallup Fair in Puyallup, Washington from September 11th to September 27th, 2009. Here, the display of the short would similarly be enhanced by the addition of numerous exhibits loaned from the nearby Pacific Science Center, among which was an actual human brain. Plans would also be made for the short to be displayed the following year at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, but it is unknown if this screening actually took place.
Once its theatrical displays had concluded, the short would subsequently fall into obscurity, with the only content from it to have seen a home media release being the audio for "The Brain Song", which was included in Al's 2017 compilation album Medium Rarities. The full short itself currently remains lost, with a recording of the music video for "The Brain Song" and a selection of behind-the-scenes clips being all that has surfaced from it. A full camrip of the short had previously been uploaded to Google Drive by Reddit user minnick27, but it would later be deleted due to minnick27 not "[wanting] to ruffle any feathers," with no archives of this recording being known to exist
- Couch Potato (lost production materials of unreleased Weird Al Yankovic music video; 2003)
- Official “Weird Al” Yankovic Pretty Fly For A Rabbi Remix (lost official song remix from Yahoo! Music Beatnik GrooveGrams Contest; 1999-2000)
- Orgy on My Own (found unreleased "Weird Al" Yankovic song; 1981)
- UHF (lost deleted scenes of Weird Al film; 1989)
- Archive of the short's official website.
- Wikipedia page for the short.
- IMDB page for the short.
- "Weird Al" Wiki page for the short film.
- Page on the Orange County Fair's website that mentions Al's Brain. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Archived Orange County Register interview with "Weird Al" Yankovic about Al's Brain. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Interview with Coolio in which his proposed role in Al's Brain is mentioned. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Blog post detailing the area in which Al's Brain was shown. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- "Frequently Asked Questions" section of "Weird Al" Yankovic's official website that mentions Al's Brain. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Archived page on the Puyallup Fair's website about Al's Brain. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Blog post about Al's Brain that mentions the planned screening at Expo 2010. Retrieved 02 Mar '23
- Post in the Lost Media subreddit about Al's Brain that features minnick27's comments. Retrieved 02 Mar '23