Review by Michael Jacobson
“Weird Al” Yankovic, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards, David Bowe,
Victoria Jackson, Fran Drescher, Emo Philips
Director: Jay Levey
Audio: Dolby Stereo Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: June 4, 2002
think Siskel and Ebert thought I was the antichrist.” – “Weird
Al” Yankovic on UHF
movie reviewer has one or two odd favorites that risks getting their critic’s
membership card revoked. For me,
one of those is UHF, a little film conceived, co-written by and starring
pop icon smasher “Weird Al” Yankovic. I
defend my liking this film simply because I’ve always been a mega-fan of
Al…I’ve owned all his records and video collections, and considered his
satirical deflation of popular music as necessary a commodity as it was funny.
And besides, if Roger Ebert can get away with giving thumbs up to Anaconda
and Speed II, I think I’m entitled to select this film as a guilty
all about liking Al…if you don’t, chances are, you didn’t even click on
this review. If you like him okay,
you might find UHF a pleasantly amusing if ultimately inconsequential
experience. But if you really
embrace what he does, then you’ll find this a film that does for TV and movies
what Al has always done with hit songs, and that is to bring them down to a base
level in a good-spirited way.
plot is worthless…Al plays George Newman, a dreamer who can’t seem to make
his imagination work for him, until his uncle gives him a chance at running
U-62, the lowest rated network in the city.
Along with friend and partner Bob (Bowe), he gives it his best shot by
basically putting anything and anybody on the air. A goofy janitor named Stanley (Richards) becomes a mega-hit
as a kids’ show host. Wheel of
Fish turns out big as a game show. Raul’s
Wild Kingdom takes a bizarre look at animals.
And so on.
station becomes a success, which draws the ire of a local network affiliate’s
owner (McCarthy), who sets out to rid the community of U-62 once and for all!
Can George save the day, stay on the air, and keep the love and affection
of his long suffering girlfriend Teri (Jackson)?
cares? The story is nothing but an
excuse for “Weird Al” parodies of everything from talk shows to Rambo to
Raiders of the Lost Ark and more. None
of these really has anything to do with the story, but they’re hysterical!
If you don’t believe me, check out segments like Conan the Librarian
or Gandhi II (“he’s back, and he’s mad”), or the memorable
commercial parodies. Spatula City? Gotta love it.
surrounds himself with a solid comic cast for his first (and so far, only big
screen endeavor), but most notable is an early appearance by Michael Richards.
For “Seinfeld” fans, he’ll always be Kramer, but for the “Weird
Al” crowd, he’s Stanley first and foremost.
He attacks the role with physical vigor and childlike enthusiasm that’s
kept him a fan favorite for over a decade.
and lest you worry, there is also music to go along with the other hijinks.
Al’s original tune “UHF” is here, along with the clever Dire
Straits spoof “Beverly Hillbillies”. Each
went on to become MTV staples in their day.
admit, UHF isn’t anybody’s concept of great filmmaking.
It may not even be one of the better spoofs, a genre that contains such
classics as Airplane! and Scary Movie.
All I can say is that I saw the picture three times during its
theatrical run, and as short as that run was, that took some effort.
Al” made one for the fans here. It
may not have overwhelmed at the box office, but it’s gone on to achieve cult
status over the years. Now, a film
that wasn’t even available on video for a number of years comes to DVD.
For those of us who have been waiting, the arrival is welcome indeed.
video quality has held up well over the years, and presents well with this
anamorphic transfer (full frame also included). It’s not as muted as some films from the 80s tend to look.
Colors maintain their integrity and natural tones, and images are fairly
sharp and clear throughout, with very little grain (noticeable mainly in
brighter scenes) and only a touch of softness during a few darker moments.
All in all, a worthy effort.
stereo surround track is adequate if not noteworthy. There’s not much going on with the rear stage, but the
front one features some nice, smooth panning effects during key sequences, and
dialogue is always clearly rendered. Dynamic
range is fair, with a few louder moments for your audio dollar and a solid score
by John du Prez.
a fun features package! For
starters, the menu screens are all animated and feature Al himself in newly
filmed bits just for the DVD. He
interacts with the menus, and even offers you a bit of advice when necessary.
There is a terrifically entertaining and funny commentary track with Al
and director Jay Levey that also features pop-in appearances by Emo Philips and
Michael Richards, along with Victoria Jackson by phone.
Al remembers absolutely EVERYTHING, right down to the street addresses of
various locations, and the two discuss every aspect of making the film, from the
early stages to the pitch, to the heavy competition it faced upon release.
Al even concludes by reading a number of excerpts from actual critical
reviews…ouch! This commentary is
one of the very best. Oh, and when you watch the movie with this
track on, watch out for another surprise or two.
Oh, and when you watch the movie with this track on, watch out for another surprise or two.
and there’s more…about 18 minutes of deleted scenes in documentary form,
hosted and narrated by Al (“I knew if we didn’t include deleted scenes you
people would whine.”). In most
cases, it’s easy to understand why they were cut, and Al even mercifully fast
forwards through a couple of tedious ones, but overall, his presentation makes
them fun. There is a 3 minute
behind-the-scenes featurette, production stills, a teaser, a trailer, a video
for the song “UHF”, and a gallery of posters and promotional materials. I've also found one Easter Egg, which shows some old footage of Al
showing you "what he's got so far" with the movie...then the whole
movie plays. This is as enjoyable a collection of extras as you’re apt
to find anywhere.