WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two lovable idiots take over a low-rent UHF channel, which paves the way for typical Yankovic lunacy and several amusing movie/TV/song parodies.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
If you’re a fan of Saturday Night Live sketch comedy or movies like The Groove Tube and Amazon Women on the Moon, you’ll have a good time with UHF. Needless to say, fans of Weird Al Yankovic’s song parodies will obviously find much to like as well. Those looking for a well-acted, professionally directed film may not make it through the first fifteen minutes. It’s clear that UHF was meant to be a framework on which to hang a series of Yankovic’s parody bits, and several of them are quite funny. Wheel of Fish has a few giggles, Conan the Librarian looks like a great show, and Raul’s Wild Kingdom is a piece of inspired lunacy. Unfortunately, the storyline in between the sketches (the new owners become an overnight sensation and must fend off the attacks from a local network CEO) pales in comparison to the spoof material.
Though Yankovic is clearly an atrocious actor, his ineptitude only adds to the movie’s corny charm. Luckily for Al, he has a solid stable of funny people working alongside him. Longtime character actor Kevin McCarthy makes for one of those ridiculously over-the-top comic villains, and has lots of fun doing it. Victoria Jackson, Fran Drescher and Billy Barty add a little flavor in small roles, but the real standout here is Michael Richards (Yes, that’s Kramer from Seinfeld.) Playing the world’s stupidest janitor, Richards is nothing short of hilarious. UHF is amateurish, low-budget and shoddy in many ways. But none of that matters ‘cuz the flick is funny. If you don’t dig Yankovic’s schtick, you should of course stay away. Everyone else should give it a shot.
Much like they did last year with their DVD release of KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, MGM/UA Home Video proves that they respect the fans of wacky cult flicks. You simply won’t believe all of the goodies on a disc that can be had for less than ten bucks! First up is a truly fantastic full-length audio commentary with Al Yankovic and director Jay Levey. Al is a virtual encyclopedia of UHF-based knowledge, right down to the smallest bit parts and addresses of the onscreen businesses. Levey floats around the background, allowing Al to rant and rave and rant about what went on behind-the-scenes (A few surprise guests pop in during the commentary, and that’s always fun.) I know that Al’s hardly a master filmmaker, but it would be nice to see other commentary tracks with this kind of enthusiasm.
There’s also a brief behind-the-scenes featurette that’s a nice inclusion if not all that fascinating. Another highlight is a 20-minute presentation of deleted scenes, complete with intermittent introductions by Al himself. Most of these scenes were deleted for good reason, and Al has no problem ridiculing his own efforts. You’ll also find the music video of Al’s title tune, a collection of theatrical trailers, a photo gallery, a series of poster art in the promotional materials and a handful of wacky easter eggs. Like I said, MGM has packed this DVD to the gills with a lot of good gravy.
A hearty pat on the back to MGM Home Video for treating “cult flick” fans with the respect they deserve. Dismiss UHF as simplistic silliness if you like (I do, and I really like it!), but this is one of the best DVDs of the year.