Movie Review: UHF (1989)


Title: UHF
Release Date: 21 July 1989
Director: Jay Levey
Production Co: Orion Pictures
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Comedy
Rating: **

A recent article about this movie contains this quote:

All over America, whenever a young man turns 13, he sees this film, and it becomes his favorite film of all time. It’s kind of like a secular, comedic Bar Mitzvah. And the accumulation of young men who at the age of 13 who have seen this film over the last 25 years has given it a massive fan base and elevated it to a legendary stature.

I failed to see this movie when I was 13, or anytime since.  Technically, I couldn’t have seen this movie when I was 13 because it was released when I was 15, but it’s the type of thing I would’ve liked when I was 13.  Or maybe 9.

UHF has a general plot about daydreamer George (Al Yankovic) inheriting a local tv-station, and making it a hit with oddball programming.  This is all just linking device for movie and commercial parodies disguised as George’s day dreams and tv shows.  All of it feels pretty dated but you can imagine it was at least somewhat funny in the 1980s.

And this may be the most 80s film ever!  Despite the decade being marked by selfishness and inequality, it has that 80s movie optimism where the ordinary folk rally together to beat evil rich guy.  A virtual parade of 80s celebrity crosses the screen – SNL‘s Victoria Jackson as George’s love interest, Gedde Watanabe as a martial instructor as stereotypical as Long Duck Dong, Fran Drescher as the station’s nasally reporter, and Emo Phillips – EMO PHILLIPS – as a high school shop teacher making a gruesome television appearance.  I can only assume Sam Kinnison, Joe Piscopo, and Spuds McKenzie were busy. The real heart of the film is a pre-Kramer Michael Richards as the station’s janitor who becomes a whacky tv star.  You can tell he’s having a great time improv-ing his part.

I mock this film, but it’s sweet and does it’s best for the laughs.  I just saw it at the wrong age.

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