Pick of the Week – July 21-27, 2014

In yesterday’s post about Weird Al Yankovic, I very briefly mentioned his 1989 film, UHF.  Rather than going on about my love for the movie there, I decided to save for this week’s pick.  UHF is the story of George Newman, playing by Yankovic, who could charitably be described as…unsuccessful in the various occupations he’s tried.  George finds his niche, though, when his uncle comes into possession of a UHF TV station and puts George in charge of it (for those too young to remember such things, in the days of antenna-based TV, there were VHF and UHF channels.  VHF was home to your major networks, while UHF tended to be smaller channels).

Despite the fact that Weird Al co-wrote and stars in the film, it is not a musical.  Aside from the closing credits song and a dream sequence involving a parody of the Dire Straits song, “Money for Nothing,” the music is limited to the sort that would be found on a regular TV station, namely commercial jingles and show theme songs.   But it’s those shows and commercials that really makes up a lot of the movie’s comedy with airborne canines, kitchen utensil warehouse stores, and an unexpected sequel to a classic biopic.  

Apart from Yankovic, who is very good in the film (The man has always been a great comedic actor.  Just watch his videos.), the cast includes a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards, a pre-Nanny Fran Drescher, and a post-Sixteen Candles Gedde Watanabe. 

As I said in my Weird Al post, UHF ended up getting crushed at the box office because it came out in one of the biggest movie summers of the 1980s, and it didn’t see a DVD release until the early 2000s thanks to rights issues stemming from the bankruptcy of the studio that made it.  Now it’s readily available and still a lot of fun.  For those with younger children, UHF  is rated PG-13, but that rating seems to be based on some of the very cartoonish violence that appears in the movie.  There’s also a somewhat un-PC gag involving Watanabe’s English pronunciation.  As it’s one of the funniest jokes in the movie, though, I’m inclined to let it slide.

-Alan Decker

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