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"Weird Al" Yankovic, Kevin McCarthy (Innerspace), Michael Richards ("Seinfeld"), David Bowie (The Cable Guy), Victoria Jackson ("Saturday Night Live") and Fran Drescher ("The Nanny") star in this inspired comedy about an offbeat guy who turns a deadbeat TV station into a raging success! Broadcasting Weird Al's uniquely strange brand of humor, UHF's Channel 62 is a place you'll want to visit...with increasing frequency! George Newman (Weird Al) is a daydreamer whose hyperactive imagination keeps him from holding a steady job...until his uncle hires him as manager of Channel 62, a TV station that's losing money and viewers fast. But when George replaces the station's reruns with bizarre programs like "Wheel of Fish," "The Wonderful World Of Phlegm" and "Raul's Wild Kingdom" (where poodles fly from third-story windows), ratings begin to soar! But as the ratings rise, so does the wrath of TV mogul R.J. Fletcher (McCarthy), who wants to turn the station into a parking lot. Can George find the money he needs to stay on the air? Stay tuned!
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"Nobody here appreciates someone with a good imagination," says Yankovic's character
George Newman, a Walter Mitty-type daydreamer who keeps failing at job after job, much to the frustration of his girlfriend Teri. So when his Uncle Harvey decides to give him a chance to be the new station manager of the UHF station, Channel 62, George jumps at the chance by putting more live shows. After all, with his pop culture daydreams, he'd be a shoo-in, right? As he tells his skeptical friend Bob, "It's just like working in a fish-market. Except you don't have to clean and gut fish all day." Joining him is Pamela Finklestein, a frustrated secretary aspiring to be a reporter. George, being the nice guy that he is, makes her one, but her first broadcast, an interview with the mayor, is rudely sabotaged. A remark "broads don't belong in broadcasting," typifies the 80's style sexism. Also, one has to compete with the national news station, Channel 8, run by the very loathsome R.J. Fletcher, who doesn't have a single nice line in the entire film.
Things start to turn around when he hires janitor Stanley Spadowski, the tall, simple-minded, but eager guy who turns out to be a smashing good entertainer as he is a janitor-his Mop speech is just great. Because of Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse, the ratings soar and before long Channel 62 is outdoing the national network affiliate Channel 8. Fletcher is far from pleased and sets out to sabotage Newman.
A lot of the film's funny moments hinges on ideas George has, such as trailers for Town Talk, his Geraldo Rivera type show where he gets whacked with a chair, commercials, or some of the programmes he comes up with-check out the programming schedule. Goony, Prince Valiant-haired comedian Emo Phillips has a memorable moment as a shop teacher who could be more careful with a buzzsaw. And how much one enjoys Raul's Wild Kingdom, hosted out of the apartment of a Mexican guy named Raul, depends on one's taste for small dogs. Oh, and Weird Al makes his notorious twinkie-wiener sandwich, oft-mentioned on Al-TV.
The high note is the opening Raiders of the Lost Ark parody, with an "idol statue" scene that's Al's closest to ever getting Best Actor. The "Beverly Hillbillies" video, a spinoff on Dire Straits' computer animated "Money For Nothing," is the other highlight, showing how George does indeed have a good imagination. And the late 70s/early 80s car commercials with a Cal Worthington type cowboy salesman is embodied in Crazy Ernie: "If nobody comes down here and buys a car in the next hour, I'm gonna club this baby seal. That's right. I'm gonna club this seal to make a better deal. You know I'll do it, to, cause I'm crazy." Hooboy!
A very young Fran Drescher is pretty hot as Pamela Finklestein, outshining Victoria Jackson (Teri), whose whiny voice is a debit in the film. Michael Richards steals the show hands down as Stanley. Kevin McCarthy does Fletcher as that villain one loves to hate, odious, overacting, and with a goofy laugh. Gedde Watanabe, who made his film debut as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, plays Kuni, who goes a bit OTT in the Wheel of Fish segment. "Stupid! You're so stupid!" he yells at a losing contestant. And veteran midget comedian Billy Barty is sadly underused in this movie, as he only has two scenes as cameraman Noodles MacIntosh. And catch Dr. Demento as the guy Stanley sprays whip cream on in an ad.
The video for the "UHF" song is included as a bonus, as is Al hosting a series of deleted outtakes, which definitely should've been left off the movie, as most were filler that did nothing to advance the movie.
Fans of Weird Al will definitely like this cult classic from the 1980's. Sight gags, and pain and destruction gags abound. Some of the material may not be so PC today. Yet for Children of the 80's such as myself, it may serve as a nostalgic pop cultural reference point.
UHF was done in 1989, long before cable was instilled in us. It was there In th main stream. Howevert under the Weird Al Yankovic's warped eyes, this satire poked fun and BAD TV and doesn't date itself.
Also in 1989, the stars of UHF were also semi-nobodies who later made it big in movies and TV. It was Weird Al's first and only starring role. The cast included such performers as Anthony Geary (in-between gigs at General Hospital), B-rated SF film star Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Comic Emo Phillips, Billy Barty, actor John Paragon ( who was the screen writer of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Michael Richards (before his turn as Kramer in TV Seinfeld), a pre Nanny Fran Drescher, Gedde Watanabe (16 Candles), and Saturday Night Live's Victoria Jackson
The satire boarders between silly and slapstick. The jokes come fast and many like in Naked Gun or Airplane. It parodies such things like Rambo, Gandhi, game shows, kiddie TV shows, music videos (with Al's Music for Nothing/jed Clampet music video in the film) and TV Network. It still seems semi fresh 18 years later
and for those DVD film fans. The DVD audio commentary has Weird Al, Director Jay Levey (who also is Al's manager), Emo Philips, Michael Richards and Victoria Jackson. There is a lot of deleted stuff Al said he had on a VHS tape in his gargage. Foe film fans, its nice
So get this satire, it don't date that much and its still is fun!
Bennet Pomerantz, AUDIOWORLD
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One of my all time fav movie.
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