UHF [Retro Review]

“Today, we’re teaching poodles how to fly!”

The Scoop: 1989 PG-13, Directed by Jay Levey and starring ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Victoria Jackson and Michael Richards

Tagline: It’s crazy. It’s zany. It’s hysterical. It’s TV according to “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Summary Capsule: Misunderstood parody artist inherits UHF station… film at 11 and hilarious!

Justin’s Rating: It’s only a mop… only a mop… only a mop…

Justin’s Review: Whether you’ll like UHF largely is dependent upon whether you like (or love) Weird Al Yankovic’s sense of humor. He’s never struck me as a Hollywood bigshot comedian, full of spit and polish and vinegar. Instead, Al’s just your ordinary geek who makes those jokes in your friend’s basement and leaves you gasping for air, trying desperately not to puke. He’s not sophisticated funny, but throughout his career, Weird Al has tapped into a very blatant vein of humor that appeals more to the unwashed masses, and less to refined individuals who send their poodles away for primping.

I dig this guy. I dig this movie. I dig the word “dig.”

The greatest comedies, in my opinions, are the ones that time-release their jokes with each new viewing. It’s great to sit back and watch a movie you’ve seen dozens of times only to find something new strangely hilarious. UHF is all this to me. Even if this movie were nothing but the *commercial* parodies alone, it would be fully worth the price of admission (whether it’s saying “I love you with the gift of a spatula” or seeing the results of a shoddy cemetary). This is the definative movie for the person with a tiny attention span who wants a little bit of everything.

Everyman George (Yankovic) has trouble keeping his jobs, mostly because he’s a daydreamer, and that sort of thing results in fatalities on the operating table, I suppose. Through a lucky turn of events, he’s placed as manager of the smallest, most down-trodden UHF TV station in the city. Through the help of goofy janitor Stanley (a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards) with inner child issues and plenty of “alternative” programming, George turns the station into the highest rated. While the main storyline is quite amusing in and of itself, UHF’s high points come through the TV and movie spoofs, which range from Ghandi II to Strip Solitaire. It’s a parade of oddity, a salad bar of mixed parodies, and a really early computer-generated music video.

Mova-mova-movie stars!

UHF is also addictively quotable. I was at work a couple years ago when a lady walked into our offices and said her name was something Weaver. Instantly and without forethought, I said out loud, “Ohh, red snapper! Very tasty, Weaver!” in Kuni’s voice. My friend, familiar with UHF, about choked to death. Death through comedy, that’s a way to go.

It’s a funny movie. It has Victoria Jackson in a dress featuring the largest puffy pink shoulders you’ll ever see. A librarian wracks up a body count. And we finally, finally learn practical uses for household animals. Perhaps the highest words of honor I can bestow upon UHF is that it manages to be great even with the presence of the nasal whine of Fran Dreshner. Huh.

The sad thing is, I would watch an entire movie of this parody.

Intermission!

  • When the shop teacher gets his thumb cut off by the table saw, he claims that he thinks that it’s somewhere on the floor, but as we can clearly see, it’s tucked away safely behind his hand.
  • In the first part of UHF while George is imagining being in Raiders of the Lost Ark, one of his trusty sidekicks pulls a gun on him while he’s not looking. The gun is in his left hand. HOWEVER, the fearless George pulls out a whip and knocks his arm off. It shows the arm (complete with gun) fall to the ground…but it’s a right arm!
  • A twinkie weiner sandwich consists of: A twinkie sliced open, with a hot dog put in the middle, and topped with easy cheez.
  • One of the jokes in the “Beverly Hillbillies” song is that the camera angle is changing so fast that Al can’t figure out where it is.
  • Philo is from the planet Zarkon
  • The lightsaber sound when Stanley reclaims his mop
  • George drives a 50’s Nash Metropolitan
  • Philo has an “interociter” in his lab; Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie featured an interociter as well
  • If you watch Sy Greenblum’s eyes during the Spatula City commercial, it’s quite obvious he’s reading from a cuecard. [thanks to The Less Infamous Justin]
  • When the karate guys jump out of the closet, they yell “Supplies!” I think. My family had a big debate over that. They thought it was an accented “Surprise!” but I’m not convinced. [thanks to The Less Infamous Justin]
  • Used the same credit font as Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Victoria Jackson nearly cracks up when Weird Al is knocking his head on the counter
  • The role of Philo was originally given to Joel of MST3K fame
  • UHF got Orion’s biggest test scores since the original Robocop.
  • Since UHF’s release, Orion has gone bankrupt and UHF was bought by MGM.
  • UHF was filmed in Tulsa, OK, and made $6.16 million in the theaters.
  • Trinidad Silva, the actor who played Raul, tragically died while they were shooting the movie. He was run over by a drunk driver (which was a contributing factor to Weird Al later turning down a multi-million dollar offer to do beer commercials). Trinidad hadn’t even shot all of the scenes they needed him for, and they briefly considered re-casting the role. If you watch the end credits, you’ll see that “UHF” is dedicated to the memory of Trinidad Silva.
  • Parodies and made up shows include:
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark [Movie Parody]
  • Town Talk With George [TV Show]
  • Stanly Spadowski’s Clubhouse [TV Show]
  • Raul’s Wild Kingdom [TV Show]
  • The Shining [Movie Parody]
  • Star Wars [Movie Parody]
  • Gone With The Wind [Movie Parody]
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind [Movie Parody]
  • Ghandi II [Movie Parody/TV Show]
  • Conan the Librarian [Movie Parody/TV Show]
  • Wheel of Fish [TV Show/Parody]
  • Strip Solitare [TV Show]
  • Uncle Nutzie’s Clubhouse [TV Show]
  • Rambo [Movie Parody]
  • Network [Movie Parody]
  • Spatula City [TV Commercial]
  • Plots R Us [TV Commercial]
  • Crazy Eddie’s Used Cars [TV Commercial]
  • U62 News
  • Beverly Hillbillies [TV Show/Musical Parody]
  • Philo’s Secrets of the Universe [TV Show]
  • Name That Stain [TV Show]
  • The Young and The Dyslexic [TV Show]
  • Wonderful World of Phlegm [TV Show]
  • That’s Disgusting [TV Show]
  • Leave It To Bigfoot [TV Show]
  • Druids on Parade [TV Show]
  • Volcano Worshipers’ Hour [TV Show]
  • Underwater Bingo For Teams [TV Show]
  • Fun With Dirt [TV Show]
  • Stay Fit! with Mike and Spike [TV Show]
  • Bowling for Burgers [TV Show]
  • Strip Solitaire [TV Show]
  • Practical Jokes and Bloopers [TV Show]
  • Celebrity Mud Wrestling [TV Show]
  • U62 Telethon [TV Show]
  • Rocky [Movie parody]

Groovy Quotes

    Stanley Spadowski: [Watching a cartoon] Watch out, Mr. Coyote! …Aww. 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, too, cause I’m crazy.Stanley: Life is like a mop. Sometimes life gets full of dirt and crud and hairballs and things and you gotta clean it out. You gotta stick it in here and rinse it off and start all over again. And sometimes life sticks to the floor so much that a mop, a mop, it’s not good enough. You gotta get down there with like a toothbrush, you know, and you gotta really scrub ’cause you gotta get it off! But if that doesn’t work, you can’t give up! You gotta stand right up! You gotta run to a window and say, “These floors are dirty as hell, and I’m not gonna take it any more!”

    George: Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by UFOs and Forced Into Weight Loss Programs—all next week on Town Talk!

    Pamela: “Broads don’t belong in broadcasting”?! Is that the kind of professional courtesy you teach your news department?
    R.J. Fletcher: Why, that’s a terrible thing! I don’t know how many time I’ve told those boys, never call chicks broads.

    Stanley: I’m thinkin’ of something orange. Something orange. Give up? It’s an orange! [laughs] Ok, now I’m thinkin’ of something blue. Something bluuuuuue.

    Commercial guy: Let’s get one thing straight. Guns don’t kill people. I do.

    [After losing his thumb in a table saw]
    Joe: Can you believe this? Would you look at that? Just call me “Mr. Butterfingers.” I think it’s on the floor somewhere. Is my face red!

    [On the game show, “Wheel of Fish”, Phyllis Weaver has just spun the wheel and landed on a red snapper]
    Kuni: Ahhh, a red snapper! Mmmmm, very tasty! Okay, Weaver, you can either hold onto you red snapper… or you can go for what’s in the box that Hiro-San is bringing down the aisle right now!
    [Hiro-San emerges, carrying a table with a box]
    Kuni: What’s it going to be, Weaver?
    Phyllis Weaver: I’ll take the box! The box!
    [Applause]
    Kuni: You took the box! Let’s see what in the box! [box is opened] Nothing! Absolutely nothing!! Stupid!! You’re so stupid!!!

    Bob: I don’t know about this, George. We don’t know the first thing about what goes on in a television station.
    George: Don’t worry, Bob. It’s just like working in a fish market. Except you don’t have to clean and gut fish all day.

    [In the “Spatula City” advertising commercial]
    Sy Greenblum: Hello, this is Sy Greenblum, president of Spatula City. I like the spatulas so much, I bought the company.

    Stanley: George, you know I was wondering, like if you were traveling through outer space, I mean like you’re going real fast, like the speed of light, you know …hoooohhhhh… and all of a sudden you started screaming …aaaahhhhh aaaaahhhhh… Do you think your brain would blow up?

    Raul: For those of you who are just joining us, today we’re teaching poodles how to fly!

    Raul: Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers!

    R.J. Fletcher: This is an embarrassment. A disgrace. What do you think R.J. Fletcher Senior would be saying if he were alive today?
    Richard Fletcher: “Help me out of this box, I can’t breathe in here! Help, let me out!”

    Stanley: George? What’s the matter?
    George: Stanley, you don’t want to know.
    Stanley: Huh? Why did I ask?

    Philo: Hello, my name is Philo and welcome to Secrets of the Universe. Today we are going to learn how to make plutonium from common household items.

    Uncle Nutzie: Now it’s time for one of my favorite cartoons. It’s a sad, depressing story about a pathetic coyote who spends every waking moment in the futile persuit of a sadistic roadrunner, who mocks him and laughs at him as he is repeatedly crushed and maimed. I hope you enjoy it!

    Stanley: Oh, Joel Miller. You’re a lucky, lucky boy ’cause you know why? You get to drink from, the fire hose!

    George: You gotta grab life by the lips and YANK as hard as you can.

    George: Beginner’s class today?
    Kuni: Yeah. They’re so stupid. [crash] STUPID!

    Teri: Did you get fired again?
    George: YES! YES! IT’S ALL TRUE! I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME! So what’s for dinner?

    RJ: I guess you know why I called you in here.
    Stanley: Because you’re lonely?

    Raul: And not too many people know this, but the turtle is also nature’s suction cup!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Timeline: Weird Al Yankovic in Film
  • Weird Al Yankovic Appreciation Day
  • The Naked Gun
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9 Comments

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