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UHF: The 25th Anniversary Edition (1989) - Blu-ray Review

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UHF: 25th Anniversary - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

“Whoa.  Free toy inside!  Free toy inside!”

Do I have your attention Cult of UHF?  Because the blu-ray you want and need has just been released.

"Weird Al" Yankovic, the reigning king of pop song parody, once took on Hollywood with his gift of satirical gab.  It was the summer of 1989 when Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade dominated the box office with a whip and a cowl.  There was little hope for his movie to survive its July release.  Critics groaned at the idea of rock’s satirist trying his luck with jabs at Hollywood and television gags.  They had no idea how correct his vision of entertainment would prove to be. 

Released by Orion Pictures, UHF was immediately appreciated by the geeks and the weirdos and few others (and, yes, I was one of those geeks who saw it multiple times at the theater).  It is the wacky story of a ne’er-do-well who takes over his uncle’s fledging TV station and turns it into a local sensation by programming absurdly bizarre shows like “Wheel Of Fish” and “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse”.  Imagine that.  Television stations going to extremes with their programming and choices in entertainment.  Hmmmm.  Sounds damn near prophetic to me. 

Anyway, in 1989, the normal people fled from theaters.  The sane stayed home.  And UHF passed into film obscurity…

…but it was not forgotten.  Years have passed and, believe it or not, its fanbase has grown.  YouTube is a wonderful thing, you know.  UHF now has a certifiable legacy and, even though the film lives in a special bubble of nostalgia where it cannot be harmed, its protectors are clamoring for more from the people involved. 

Now, thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory, Yankovic’s UHF gets all bright and shiny in this 25th Anniversary release on blu-ray.  Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, Michael Richards (Seinfeld), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Fran Drescher (The Nanny), Gedde Watanabe (Sixteen Candles), and Victoria Jackson (Saturday Night Live), UHF has never looked this good. 

“Joel Miller, you’ve just found the marble in the oatmeal. You’re a lucky, lucky, lucky little boy. You know why? You get to drink from… THE FIREHOSE!” explains Stanley Spadowski to one lucky boy in his audience.  Revisiting UHF – now in HD – feels a lot like that, too.   The film is uneven but in its unevenness is a vision of entertainment we never thought would become America’s future.  No cultural touchstone is too taboo for UHF.  From skits like Conan The Librarian delivering a violent repercussion for an overdue book to tossing a poodle from an open window during a manic animal show called Raul’s Wild Kingdom, the shows on Channel 62 may seem wholly normal when compared to today’s programming. 

But it all began with “Weird Al” doing what he does best in UHF.  They really do have it all – including the future – on Channel 62.  For “Weird Al” Yankovic fans, owning UHF is a total no-brainer.  Is the film a subversive call to creativity disguising itself as low-brow?  Hard to say.  Everyone is having too much fun.  This is a world where Ghandi kicks major ass and everyone wants to, has to, needs to drink from the fire hose.  UHF is funny as hell and that’s enough for me.

UHF: 25th Anniversary - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Runtime:
97 mins.
Writer:
'Weird Al' Yankovic, Jay Levey
Director
: Jay Levey
Cast:
'Weird Al' Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:
A lot of TV stations have forgotten what "quality" means. But not Channel 62. They NEVER knew what it meant.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by UFOs and Forced Into Weight Loss Programs... all next week on Town Talk."
Distributor:
Orion Pictures
Official Site: http://www.mgm.com/
Release Date:
July 21, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 11, 2014
Synopsis: A local public station gets a new owner. The station becomes a hit, with all sorts of hilarious sight gags and wacky humor.

UHF: 25th Anniversary - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 11, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray won’t serve as anyone’s audio/visual demo disc, but it’s passable.  The 1080p image varies considerably in terms of clarity and grain levels, but it’s hard to say how much of that is inherent in the original cinematography.  UHF was a low-budget affair that has always looked pretty unsightly.  The “Money for Nothing” and commercial parodies (gotta love “Spatula City,” even after all these years) were designed to look like crappy standard definition broadcast TV of the era, so they aren’t going to look any better on BD.  Fine detail is wanting for much of the film, but overall this is still an upgrade over the previous DVD.  The audio is presented as a nothing-special 2.0 stereo mix that isn’t going to rock anyone’s world but one that sounds perfectly acceptable.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Weird Al and co-writer/director Jay Levey provide the amusing commentary.  The co-writers look back at the film and provide an amazing amount of trivia from Al about the production, his fellow actors' resumes, the street addresses of the Tulsa locations, trivia, and more.

Special Features:

There’s more where that came from.  Much more.  UHF was trimmed by an hour from its rough cut, and the special features provide a hilariously self-deprecating guide to the deleted scenes, with Yankovic running through 20 minutes of jokes that were deleted “because they suck.”  All the previous DVD’s special features are ported over, including commentary, a short EPK featurette, music video, trailer, deleted scenes, and still photos.  But best of all is the brand new inclusion, the 2014 San Diego Comic Con “Weird Al” Yankovic panel hosted by comedian Jonah Ray. The panel runs about 51 minutes and includes some very funny Q&A moments.

  • The Wonderful World of 'Weird Al' Yankovic (51 min)
  • Behind the Scenes (4 min)
  •  Deleted Scenes (20 min)
  • "UHF" Music Video (4 min)
  • 200 Production Stills
  • TV Trailers

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