Friday, March 24, 2017


I will never forget the first time I saw Weird Al Yankovic’s cinematic debut in the classic 1989 satire, UHF (trailer). I slept over at a friend’s around 1998/99 and we walked a few blocks to a nearby Blockbuster Video and rented it along with a couple other flicks for a movie marathon that night. For some reason, it tickled all the right funny bones for me and it ended up being one of my favorite comedies. When it hit DVD a few years later I indulged in it at least a couple more times over the years.

It finally hit BluRay a couple years ago in time for the 25th anniversary of the film, and I did buy it upon initial release but it sat in my backlog until last weekend. It was not my backlog I pulled it out of to watch however (though I did for the extras over the next couple days), but at a different friend’s place instead. We were having dinner at Hu-Hot and while waiting by the grill we noticed one of the chefs must have had on a Weird Al Pandora station and we continued to nod along enthusiastically to a few of his vintage satirical songs until we nearly simultaneously blurted out, “we’re watching UHF tonight!”

Do not go into UHF expecting an original plot, since it is as slapstick as it gets and is more of a means to an end to work in all the spoofs. Weird Al says exactly that in the commentary track. Yankovic portrays one George Newman. Along with his friend, Bob (Davie Bowe, not the singer) they are both constantly between jobs until they are gifted a fringe UHF TV station on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite their attempts at original programming, the future was looking dire for channel U52 until their janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) lucks into hosting the children’s playhouse show and it becomes a smash hit. Local major network bighead RJ Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy) is the antagonist for the film and attempts to make sure that he squashes all of U52’s momentum and put them out of business for good.

Like I said, the plot is extremely basic and plays out rather predictably, and the satirical jokes during the course of the film are hit and miss. I am still a fan of the Newman’s breakfast of choice being the hotdog-Twinkie-dipped-in-milk combo. The jokes and gags that hit really hit good, and once UHF starts to insert their one-to-two minute spoofs throughout the film, I was on board with nearly all of them. Conan the Librarian and Raul’s Animal Kingdom are my two favorites of them while Spatula City and Weird Al’s version of Rambo also get high marks from me. I lost track of how many spoofs are in here, but I would estimate that of UHF’s 97 minute runtime that nearly a third of it is dedicated to about a dozen spoofs of various TV shows and movies. Almost all of them are winners and you can tell this is where the heart of the movie is, and knowing Yankovic’s style of comedy it is readily apparent where he put most of the work in this film.

The BluRay carries over all the extras from the DVD release, and adds in a new feature that is a 51 minute panel from a recent ComiCon. Al is joined by fellow comic Jonah Ray, and the two mesh well together as they reminisce over Al’s career and answer questions from the fans. They only touch on UHF briefly for a couple of times in the panel as they spend a lot more time talking about Al’s many musical endeavors over the years. It is an entertaining panel and well worth checking out. There are only a few other extras, but do not miss out on them as UHF has one of the best takes on a deleted scenes feature I have ever seen. Instead of playing them all individually, Al introduces a 19 minute feature where he admits all the deleted scenes are miserable to watch in their entirety and he plays clips of them while narrating in between why they were so abysmal and had to be cut. It is very well done so do not miss it!

Aside from a music video and a poster gallery there is a commentary track that is required viewing. Like the deleted scenes, this is one of my all time favorite takes on a home video audio commentary track! Al is joined by director Jay Levey throughout the feature, but Jay is noticeably quiet throughout and Al pokes fun at him and eventually gives him the mic to have his say as Jay stumbles through some choice words a couple of times in one of the best moments of the commentary. Al came to the commentary with his research and has a ton of facts about the cast and crew and constantly cracked me up at what they had to do to cut costs since they were so under budget. Michael Richards joins them on commentary for about 15 minutes before suddenly leaving in a moment that I am still shaking my head over, and a couple other minor characters make brief appearances in the commentary too. Of the three plus years of doing this blog I do not believe I have raved this much about a commentary track before, so believe me when I say there is rarely a lull and that you absolutely have to check out UHF’s commentary track.

There was a small part of me going into watching this again thinking this film would not hold up since it was probably over 10 years since I last seen it and some satires do not stand the test of time, but I was glad to be proven wrong. If satires/spoofs are not your thing you probably will not get that much out of this, but if you are a fan of that style of comedy then this is right up your alley and you will not be disappointed. And once again to hammer home the point, make sure to check out the deleted scenes and commentary track!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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