Film Length: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
and Standard (1.33:1) Transfers
badgers?! badgers?! We don't
need no steenkin' badgers!
I guess now is the time I come out of the
closet to admit that I am somewhat of a
"Weird Al" fan. During the 80's, I fell
in love with his offbeat interpretations
of current hit pop songs. His extraordinary
legacy of music and videos include "Ricky,"
"I lost on Jeopardy" and "Like a Surgeon".
Like it or not, Weird Al was a phenomenon
that soon was not to go away.
In 1989, Weird Al was given the chance to
bring his humor to the big screen. And how
does one write a story that shows off all of
Yanchovic's talents? Put him in charge of
a TV station and let the parodies begin....
George Newman (Yankovic), is a loser who just
can't keep a job. He lives next door to martial
arts schools, consumes twinkie hot dog sandwiches,
and has a very attractive girlfriend (how did THAT
happen?)named Teri (Victoria Jackson) that he stood
up for the umpteenth time.
When George's Uncle wins a UHF television station
in a poker game, he is unwillingly convinced to put
George in charge. When George arrives at the tiny
station, he finds an inhabited mad scientist's
lair under the control of eccentric chief engineer
Filo (Anthony Geary), and aspiring reporter Pamela
Finklestein (Fran Drescher).
With ratings already at their lowest, there is
nowhere to go but up. A last-minute decision to
let the station's dumb janitor (Michael Richards)
take over a kiddie-show results in the station's
ratings skyrocketing. This gives the opportunity
for Yanchovic to display parody upon parody of
commercials and movies that include Conan
The Librarian; Raiders of The Lost Ark; Ghandi II;
Spatula City and Rambo. There's also
a homage to Dire Straits as Yanchovic performs
"The Beverly Hillbillies" theme song to "Money For Nothing".
Can Yankovic save the station? Even better
yet, can he save this movie? I realize that
UHF has become a cult movie over the years
since its release, but frankly, but this movie
stretches and stalls way too often. It's not
especially funny more than goofy, and I don't
think I ever really laughed out aloud once.
How is the transfer?
Mostly, the transfer looks very good. Where
this transfer succeeds is in the extraordinary
amount of color it shows. You'll be amazed at
the vivid colors of the Burger World uniforms to
the entire set of Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse.
But one must wonder if the color levels were
turned up a bit too high. Flesh tones generally
run very red. This was bothersome to me, as
the transfer took on a very unnatural look. In
addition, there is a noticeable amount of video
noise in the picture. The transfer never really
hides the fact that this was a low-budget picture.
There is interesting use of the Dolby Digital
Surround track. While the sound generally sounds
more bland than robust, I was surprised that the
rears took on as much responsibility as they did,
adding crowd noise to a party or even the competing
station's office. The rears really come alive
during the Dire Straits music video spoof, as the
electric guitar stays firmly behind you as the
rest of the song plays through the front sound
UHF is presented on a 2-sided DVD with
a 16x9 widescreen version on one side and a
full-frame version on another. You will have
to access the full-frame side for one of the
MGM has put together a disc that will really
please the fans -- especially since Al Yanchovic
has added his own personal touch to it.
The DVD MAIN MENU is a hoot. Weird Al himself
walks onto a TV screen filled with menu choices
in each corner. As the menu choices go slightly
askew, Al comes out to investigate, often punching
or kicking the selections back into place. When
the TV screen becomes dirty, Al comes back out to
squeaky clean it with his cloth. As you select
individual options, Al makes some nifty adjustments
to the TV, taking you to the next menu phase. On
the Special Features screen, Al lurks amongst
the menu choices.
There is a pretty cool Audio Commentary
with Al Yankovic and Director Jay Levey. Al
is in full gear as he makes fun of the bankrupt
Orion studio, citing problems with many of the
shots in the film that could have been cleaned up
if the studio had more money. At one point, there
is a surprise commentary appearance by Emo Philips,
as both he and Al recreate the shop teacher skit.
As much of this commentary that I heard, I thought
it was quite fun. Al takes complete control as
if he had pages of notes in his hand about every
remembrance he had about that film.
Behind The Scenes is a 1989 featurette
that begins on the set of "Wheel of Fish".
To thank all the children that participated in
filming that sequence, Al hands each of them their
own dead fish as they leave the set. We get some
glimpses of the RAIDERS sequence being shot. The cast
seems to be having a lot of fun as Victoria Jackson
and Michael Richards jokingly talk about the film's
star. (length: approx. 3 minutes)
The film's original Music Video is a
collage of film clips with Al spoofing some of
the greatest 80's music video artists including
Prince, Robert Palmer, ZZ Topp and INXS.
There are approximately 181 Production Stills
that show all the off-screen antics of the cast as
well as shots not seen in the final cut of the film.
Somewhere in the set of photos is Al being presented
on the set of the film with gold record awards.
You will have to flip the disc over to the
full-frame side in order to access the Deleted
Scenes. These come with a personal video
introduction by Al himself, now 13 years older.
There are some real funny moments here, and the
fact that Al personally walks you through it all
makes it even more fun to watch. He even makes
you sit through a love scene with Victoria Jackson.
I think fans will love the 15-20 minutes worth of
footage that is shown here even though Al does
everything he can to convince you that it "stinks
There are also some Easter Eggs scattered amongst
this disc, but alas, I didn't have the time to
search them out -- but be sure to click on the menu
choice that reads: "On the Other Side".
I must give credit to MGM who went to lengths
to make this DVD appealing to the fans who had
pressed the studio to release it. The mere fact
that Al is so personally involved with this disc
makes it a trophy for the fans that have supported
this film through the years. I must warn, however,
UHF is a film strictly for Weird Al fans.
For anyone else, it can be torturous.
Release Date: June 4th