Movie Review: Sing (2016)


Title: Sing
Release Date: 21 December 2016
Director:  Christophe Lourdelet, Garth Jennings
Summary/Review:

Zootopia used a city of anthropomorphic animals as the setting for a socially-conscious police procedural, and Sing does essentially the same thing for the musical comedy, albeit not as sophisticated. Koala Buster Moon is a show biz impresario who decides to save his decaying theater by staging a talent competition.  Cue audition scenes followed by rehearsals with quirky core group of ambitious talent: a soulful gorilla who does not want to be part of his father’s bank-robbing gang, a punk rock porcupine more talented than her self-centered boyfriend, an overworked mother of 25 piglets looking for a chance to express herself, an exuberant, Teutonic pig in sparkly dance leotards, and a shy, teenage elephant with a strong voice.

The movie is full of gags and generally funny enough to entertain both children and adults.  But it also contains some serious undertones and cynicism about show business that seems a bit heavy, especially a terrifying scene in which the theater is destroyed.  The movie has it’s flaws, among them a soundtrack that switches frenetically among popular songs (the licensing bill must’ve been huge) and is a bit a bloated at nearly two hours in length.  But it’s better than the sum of it’s parts with some joyous musical performances, especially in the final performance at the end of the film.
Rating: ***

TV Review: BoJack Horseman (2016)


TitleBoJack Horseman
Release Dates: 2016
Season: 3
Number of Episodes: 12
Summary/Review:  This is the third series of the animated Netflix show that is laugh out loud funny, acerbically satirical, emotionally raw, and thoroughly depressing.  Two plots are intertwined through the series: BoJack making the circuit of appearances in hopes of getting an Oscar nomination for the biopic of Secretariat and flashbacks to 2007 when BoJack helped create a tv show that flopped (kind of eerie how the show makes 2007 feel like a long time ago!).  Both plots deal with BoJack’s inability to feel happiness, his capacity for self-sabotage, and his unreliability to friends and colleagues.  Looking back on the season it seems so glum, it’s hard to remember that there was a lot to laugh about, but BoJack Horseman is all about using humor to peel back the most painful wounds.  The highpoint of the season is episode 4, “Fish Out of Water,” where BoJack goes to a film festival in a community under the sea and thus there’s almost no dialogue in the entire episode as the undersea world is brought to life with fantastic visuals, sound effects, and music.  It’s a tour-de-force in what is a really well-done season of television.

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Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)


Title: Ghostbusters
Release Date: 15 July 2016
Director: Paul Feig
Summary/Review:

When I heard a new Ghostbusters movie was being made I was hoping it would be 30 years later and due to turnover they had a new crew, mostly because I’m tired of reboots.  But what I think about things doesn’t really matter because the makers of this movie have managed to make a Ghostbusters film (and a Ghostbusters origin story) that is totally fresh and original. There are lots of moments that pay tribute to the 1984 original – such as the firehouse, the Ghostbusters logo, Ecto-1, Slimer, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – but after the first moment of recognition these things are subverted in humorous ways.  The original cast also all appear in cameo roles (even the late Harold Ramis appears as a bust). But  despite all the nostalgia this Ghostbusters stands on its own with original ideas, a terrific script, and laugh out loud lines.

What really makes Ghostbusters terrific are the characters and the actors who play them.  There’s Erin (Kristen Wiig), the academic who appears alternately awed and enthused that her lifelong belief in ghosts is vindicated.  Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is an unabashed nerd.  There’s a special place in my heart for Patty (Leslie Jones) who brings her encyclopedic knowledge of the history of New York to the team.  But pretty much every scene is stolen by Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and her blasé weirdness. The main plot involves a villain who is using the ghosts to extract revenge on people  who made fun of him growing up, which is wonderfully contrasted with the Ghostbusters who also have tortured pasts but come together in solidarity and use their “outsider” traits to benefit the common good. It also can’t be overstated how important for girls and women to see themselves represented as funny and heroic in a movie like this.
Rating: ****

Movie Review: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)


Title: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Release Date: 22 July 2016
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Summary/Review:

“Oh god, I can’t believe you’re still…alive!” sputters Jon Hamm  to Patsy Stone at a party in this film adaptation of the long-running BBC comedy.  In a way it’s kind of an appropriate response to the continued existence of Absolutely Fabulous.  The premise of a pair of aging baby boomers deluding themselves into believing that they are popular, fashionable, and can party non-stop was delightfully absurd in the 1990s, but it seems inconceivable to continue the same story 25 years later. Luckily, the movie takes on aging and mortality – as well as the human connections lost while trying to grasp youth – as one of its theme, but this is still AbFab so they don’t get too mushy about it.  The basic plot is the Eddie kills model Kate Moss by pushing her into the Thames and she and Patsy have to go on the run.  Hijinks ensue with a number of one-liners and visual humor (I particular like when Saffy is forced to sing Janis Ian’s “Seventeen” to a club full of drag queens).

There are numerous celebrities appearing in cameos and small parts including Lulu, Gwendolyn Christie, Mark Gatis, Hamm, Rebel Wilson, and Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna) as well as lots of fashion models and designers I’ve never heard of before (apparently Paul McCartney has a daughter named Stella who is a fashion designer and she gets one of the best quips in the movie when she implies that Patsy broke up the Beatles, not Yoko Ono).  Ultimately, this is an extended length AbFab episode with higher production values.  Fans of AbFab will enjoy it,  but there’s nothing here for anyone who doesn’t like AbFab and anyone who’s not watched the show will be out to sea. It’s no comic masterpiece but I got a few laughs and a chance to renew my long-time crush on Julia Sawalha.
Rating: ***

Movie Review: Dope (2015)


Title: Dope
Release Date: 19 June 2015
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Summary/Review:

Growing up in “The Bottoms” of Inglewood, California, Malcolm and his friends Diggy and Jib get good grades, play in a punk band, and are obsessed with 1990s hip hop music and fashion.  As geeky misfits they have to navigate themselves around bullies, drug dealers, and gang members on a daily basis.  When a young woman invites Malcolm to a drug dealer’s party at a nightclub, they find themselves in the middle of a shootout and with a backpack filled with Molly and a gun.  All sorts of hijinks ensue as the trio attempt to get rid of and then sell the drugs. It’s reminiscent in many ways of teen comedies of the 1980s updated with contemporary references. It’s probably most analogous to Risky Business, but since I always hated that movie I’ll point out that it shares commonalities with Real Genius in the ways the young protagonists use their smarts to outwit and outsmart everyone else.  While this movie is laugh out loud funny, grim realities are close to the surface and it does not shy away from depicting gun violence, drug use, and the frequent use of the n-word.  This is a pretty spectacular movie on all levels – script, acting, cinematography, and the brilliant use of music.

Rating: ****

TV Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2016)


TitleUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Release Dates: 2016
Season: 2
Number of Episodes: 13
Summary/Review:

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is  the type of tv comedy that if you explain the premise it sounds like it would be absolutely awful, but somehow it works. In the first season Ellie Kemper’s titular character is rescued from an underground bunker where she’s been held for 15 years after being abducted as a child by a doomsday cult leader.  With the naivete of a child from the 90s in a woman’s body, she decides to move to New York where she successfully finds a place to live, a job, studies for a GED, and even finds love (although most of this falls apart by the end of the season).

In season 2, Kimmy’s characteristic cheerfulness and optimism begin to break as she’s unable to suppress the trauma of her childhood and the stress of trying to hold her new life together.  And yes, as I said above this is a comedy, but one that deals with deep and dark issues hilariously, in a manner that is just dense with jokes. Part of the success of the show is the ensemble cast of Kimmy’s friends and colleagues.

There are three standout characters.  Jane Krakowski plays the Manhattan socialite Jacqueline Voorhees having divorced on Kimmy’s advice is now trying to work her way back into wealth and power but with a nagging sense of conscience thanks to Kimmy.  Krakowski has always played funny characters in the past but she brings a lot of depth to Jacqueline who could otherwise easily be a vapid caricature.  Kimmy’s landlady Lillian Kaushtupper is played by Carol Kane who has a much bigger role in this season and just may be favorite character.  Throughout the season Lillian tries to stop gentrification in her neighborhood but only ends up making matters worse as incoming hipsters consider her charming local color.  Finally, a new character Andrea portrayed by show creator and writer Tina Fey is a straightlaced therapist by day and an obnoxious drunk.  Again, it’s a premise that sounds ridiculous, but Fey provides a realistic portrayal of addiction while keeping it funny, and provides a foil to Kimmy dealing with her own inner demons.

Not everything works. The episode “Kimmy Goes to a Play!” is a mean-spirited response to critics of the show who objected to casting a white actor as a Native American in the first season.  Kimmy finally consummates her relationship with on-again/off-again boyfriend Dong in episode 8, and then his character is deported and never mentioned again.  But overall this a sharp and unique comedy that will have you laughing but also keep you thinking.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Easy A (2010)


TitleEasy A
Release Date: 2010
Director:  Will Gluck
Summary/Review:

This movie was described to me as the high school comedy interpretation of The Scarlet Letter.  The story begins when 17 y.o. Olive tells her friend that she lost her virginity to a fictional college boyfriend.  Word gets out and Olive suddenly has a bad girl reputation.  Soon Olive is pretending to be sexually involved with several boys in order to help their reputations (that is for one boy to cover that he’s gay, for another that he’s an overweight loser, and so on).  Enjoying the attention and also making a statement about double standards and rumor mongering, Olive begins wearing more revealing clothing with the letter A stitched on.  A series of improbable but hilarious events ensue.

It’s a good mix of high school comedy with biting satire, and a fun way of addressing some serious topics such as bullying, gossip, and teen sexuality.  The movie is episodic but it’s tied together by the wit and charm of the lead actor Emma Stone.  And it’s really funny.

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: Fight Club (1999)


Title: Fight Club
Release Date: 1999
Director:  David Fincher
Summary/Review:

Scratch this off the list of movies everyone has seen except me.  Not that I hadn’t already known the basic plot details of the movie for some time.  Still that made it fun to watch for evidence of the big twist before it was revealed.  Of course there are things I didn’t know about like Helena Bonham Carter’s character and her significance in the movie (and why does every Helena Bonham Carter have black rings around her eyes?) And oh my, that final scene wouldn’t have gone over well if the movie was made a couple of years later.  This movie of course is a stylized and violent satire of masculinity and consumer culture.  I think it hits a few points pretty well, misses the mark on others, but basically is an interesting story with good acting and direction.

 

Rating: ***

TV Review: BoJack Horseman (2015)


TitleBoJack Horseman
Release Dates: 2015
Season: 2
Number of Episodes: 12
Summary/Review:

The first season focused on BoJack & Diane writing his memoirs, but the second series is more scattered in focus ranging from BoJack starring in a Secretariat biopic, Mr. Peanutbutter’s new game show (created by J.D. Salinger!), Todd getting involved in an improv comedy cult, and even an entire episode built around jokes about auto-erotic asphyxiation (disturbing, but surprisingly funny and touching too).  Over the course of the season both BoJack and Diane go in a downward spiral.  On the upside, Princess Carolyn and Mr. Peanutbutter get a lot of great character development. The best episodes are “After the Party” showing the stories of three couples after a disastrous party and “Hank After Dark” a takedown of the culture that protects celebrities from allegations of sexual assault (featuring a thinly-disguised Bill Cosby character).  The show gets darker and more serious while still being incredibly funny.  I eagerly look forward to season 3.

 

Movie Review: The Big Short (2015)


TitleThe Big Short
Release Date: 2015
Director: Adam McKay
Summary/Review:

I wouldn’t think that The Big Short by Michael Lewis, a book about the investors who saw through the complex shenanigans around financial instruments leading to the great collapse of 2008, would make a great movie.  But director McKay and his cast and crew do a great job of making a film that is funny, educational, and heartbreaking.  There are a lot of pomo kind of tricks like breaking the fourth wall to speak to audience and celebrity cameos that are reminiscent of 24 Hour Party People.  The movie is anchored by strong acting, including Steve Carell as the crotchety New Yorker from ” America’s angriest hedge fund,” and Christian Bale as the quirky genius who first thought to short the subprime mortgage market.

I don’t know if this was a common reaction, but as the film depicted the crash and all the suffering caused by Wall Street, I wept openly in the movie theater.  This is a terrific film that works on both the mind and the emotions and I think everyone should try to see it.  Well, unless your easily offended by foul language and strippers and those sort of things.

Most telling dialogue in the entire movie (regarding some douchey mortgage agents):

Mark Baum: I don’t get it. Why are they confessing?

Danny Moses: They’re not confessing.

Porter Collins: They’re bragging.

Rating: *****

Movie Review: Her (2013)


Title:  Her
Release Date: 2013
Director:  Spike Jonze
Summary/Review:

Set in the near future, this movie is about a man developing a romantic relationship with the consciousness of a computer operating system.  It’s an interesting take on the love story dealing with layers of reality and artifice and the role of technology in human society.  While there are some very uncomfortable and unsettling scenes, the movie doesn’t take the typical kneejerk anti-technology stance, and it doesn’t judge.   The overall feeling I get is that intimacy and relationships in this future will continue to be a challenge to negotiate but that the new technology will not make it a dystopia.

The protagonist Theodore works as writer for a service that provides personal handwritten letters which are neither personal now handwritten.  Despite his ability to express meaningful emotions for others in the letters he crafts he has trouble expressing his own self to others.  We see him often in crowds where everyone seems to be having meaningful interactions with someone, just not the people around him.  Most surprisingly for a comedy about “man who falls in love with his computer” he’s not alone as other characters admit to also having relationships with their operating systems which is an interesting twist.

The story of Samantha, the OS, is also interesting as it addresses the idea of the rights and privileges of conscious beings even when artificially created.  The conclusion of her story is unexpectedly reminiscent of the 1984 movie Electric Dreams (on of my all time favorites, cheesy as it is).

One thing I really liked about this vision of the future is a Los Angeles where people lived and worked in cozy high-density buildings with lots of public transit and pedestrian space.  This movie is mostly quiet conversation and at two hours I admit my attention did drift a bit.  But it is a thought-provoking and beautifully filmed and acted story.

Rating: ***

TV Review: BoJack Horseman (2014)


TitleBoJack Horseman
Release Dates: August 2014
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 12
Summary/Review:

This is a show with a big premise, a world in which anthropomorphic animals live and work among humans.   One of them,  BoJack Horseman, was the star of a popular 1990s sitcom in which a horseman adopts human children.  In the current day, BoJack is a washed-up drunk, living in a Hollywood mansion and trying to regain his relevancy by writing his autobiography.  In the first episode Diane Nyugen is introduced as his ghostwriter, and their relationship is the core of the season.

The show is deeply satirical and is reminiscent of The Simpsons, 30 Rock, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show! for it’s combination of satire, spoof, sight gags, and sensitivity.  There are a lot of gags and it’s funny when a anthropomorphic animal character acts on their animal instinct.  But there’s a lot of serious undertones to this show as well, and it’s often just as heartbreaking as it is funny.
Rating: ***1/2

TV Review: Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015)


TitleWet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Release Dates: July 2015
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 8
Summary/Review:

Gonna try something new here.  Since I’ve been binge-watching tv shows on Netflix and elsewhere, I may as well post a few thoughts here.  Thus this is my first TV Review!

This tv series is a prequel to the 2001 movie, with the same actors returning to play teenagers even though everyone is 15 years older and looks it (especially the men).  This is played for a good gag at the end of the series. Like the movie, the show is a loving spoof of 1980s movie tropes, not just camp movies but across genres.  And like the movie, a lot more happens than could possibly happen in a single day.  Surprisingly, I think the tv series is actually funnier than the movie, perhaps because over several episodes they’re able to build up the characters and scenarios to make the gags pay off.

It’s not perfect, but if you’re looking for some dumb fun, here it is.
Rating:***

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)


TitlePitch Perfect 2
Release Date: 2015
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Summary/Review:

There’s always some chanciness around sequels to a cult classic movie. This one takes the Rocky III approach, with the Barden Bellas succeeding for several years but failing as success gets to their heads, facing the taunts of new rivals, and having to regain their way.  In this case the Bellas are embroiled in scandal due to a wardrobe malfunction at a performance before the President, plus the realization that with graduation looming there is life beyond college and a capella.  The Clubber Lang of the movie is the German supergroup Das Sound Machine whom the Bellas must defeat in the totally made-up World Championship of A Capella to be reinstated in collegiate a capella.

The movie is kind of a patchwork quilt of set pieces, subplots, and music performances, but it makes an entertaining whole.  The funny bits actually are funnier than the original movie, although the musical performances that made the first movie so brilliant aren’t as strong here.  I think that’s partially because the plot has most of the performances take place when the Bellas “have lost their voice” and are trying glam things up too much with spectacle.

Hailee Steinfield is a good addition as a Freshman legacy who joins the Bellas and Keegan-Michael Key is funny as Beca’s arrogant boss at a production studio.  On the downside, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks’ bits as a capella commentators are even less necessary and less funny than in the first movie, and the new character played by Chrissie Fit is just an endless series of bad Latin American immigrant jokes.  The only advantage here is that there’s less time for stereotypical Asian jokes about Lilly.

On the whole, it’s a fun movie.  Like Return of the Jedi, I’ve reached the point where I care enough about these characters to overlook some of the movie’s shortcomings.
Rating: ***

Movie Review: View from the Top (2003)


Title:  View from the Top
Release Date: 2003
Director: Bruno Barreto
Summary/Review:

I was in the mood for something dumb, and saw this listed on Netflix and thought it might fill the bill.  It’s story about Donna, a young woman from a small town who dreams of getting out and decides to become a flight attendant, first with a skeezy commuter airline and then with one of the top carriers.  This movie really doesn’t know if it wants to be a screwball comedy, an inspirational film, or a romantic comedy and jarringly jumps among all three styles.  A lot of the “humor” relies on gender stereotypes and movie cliches.  I know I got what I asked for when I wanted something dumb, but it wasn’t even an entertaining dumb.  Somewhere in here is the seed of a good movie, but the didn’t seem to try.
Rating: *1/2

Movie Review: A League of Their Own (1992)


Title:  A League of Their Own
Release Date: 1992
Director:  Penny Marshall
Summary/Review:

I can scratch this off the list of movies I never got around to seeing.  This highly-fictionalized movie tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League started during World War II.  It’s a generally entertaining account of an overlooked time in sports history but a few things bug me about.  First, there are a lot of broad comedy devices that seems to undermine the professional aspirations of women athletes by just making them look to silly.  Second, the movie feels bloated with the framing device about the reunion at Cooperstown.  I guess I would’ve found it more interesting if they’d tied it more to actual alumni of the AGPBL rather than having older actors play older fictional versions of the fictional characters.  Finally, I thought Lori Petty played her character far too petulantly (although I was happy that her team won the championship at the end).  Other than that the acting is pretty good – Geena Davis is a strong lead character, for stunt casting Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell are actually quite excellent in supporting roles, and I warmed up to Tom Hanks as the angry drunk manager with a heart of gold.  The scene that made me laugh the most is the one where he tries to upbraid a player for missing the cutoff but is unable to find any words.  The thing I get out of watching this movie more than 20 years after it was made is that today we have a professional women’s basketball league and a professional women’s soccer league, but dang it! I just want a professional women’s baseball league, too.
Rating: ***

Movie Review: Wet Hot American Summer (2001)


TitleWet Hot American Summer
Release Date: 2001
Director:  David Wain
Summary/Review:

This comedy is part parody/part homage to the teen sex comedies of the 1970s and 1980s with a keen attention to period detail.  The humor is kind of hit or miss as it’s basically a series of set pieces and some are funnier than others, kind of like an improv show.  The best running gag is that it is impossible for all these things to be happening in a single day and the characters are aware of the way movies play with time.  This seems like the kind of movie a group of friends who remember the 80s might enjoy watching together, but I’m not sure if it was worth me waiting 15 years (or is it 35 years) to see it.

Rating: **1/2

Movie Review: Moonrise Kindgom


Title: Moonrise Kindgom
Release Date: 2012
Director: Wes Anderson
Summary/Review: Set in 1965 on a fictional, rural island in New England this movie tells the story of a pair of 12-year-old, both outsiders with “behavior problems,” who decide to run away together and the efforts of their community to find them.  This being a Wes Anderson movie it has all the hallmarks of his style – bright colors, symmetry, unusual music choices, and quirky behavior. I tend to waver on whether I like Anderson or not, but I ended up enjoying this movie.  I think it succeeds on the strength of the young actors in the lead roles, Kara Hayward as Suzy and Jared Gilman as Sam, where it could have failed with less authentic acting performances.  Hayward and Gilman even outshine the many big name actors who surround them, including France McDormand and Bill Murray who are either miscast or just underused as Suzy’s parents. The story of the community coming together around the missing children also strikes a nice balance of being sweet without being saccharine and sardonic without being cynical.

Rating: ****

The Christmas Revels: A Welsh Celebration of the Winter Solstice


It’s warm and overcast out, and looking to only get warmer as the week goes.  We’re more likely to have a wet Christmas than a white Christmas, but I know the holiday is coming soon.  Today my family and I celebrated the solstice with a matinée of The Christmas Revels.  This is our (mostly) annual tradition going back to 2001.  The Revels this year is set in Wales, a land of beautiful singing traditions, poetry, and mythology.  I’ve never been to Wales but this show gave me a nostalgic longing for the place.

It should be noted that while Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones are famed Welsh singers, their was music was not represented in the show.  There were familiar tunes for the sing-a-longs – “Cwm Rhondda” and “Hydrofol” – which as song leader David Coffin pointed out, “you know these songs just not with these words.”  The familiar Christmas carol “Deck the Hall” was also sung by a choir of children, but in the original Welsh.  The children – who were excellent as always – also performed scenes from Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

There’s a beautiful scene near the end of Part 1 where Coffin sings “Daffydd y Garregg Wen (David of the White Rock)” accompanied by Haley Hewitt, while Emma Crane Jaster performing as the legendary bard Taliesen.  Jaster is lit from below and moves her arms like a harpist, casting large shadows on the roll-top desk ceiling of Sanders Theatre.  My daughter imitated the gesture, waving her arms by her own imaginary harp.  (And I was right in my memory that Taliesen is also the name of Frank Lloyd Wright’s estate in Wisconsin). Other highlights include a group of rugby supporter singing a rousing victory song, some fine clogging, and a retelling of “Froggy Went A-Courtin'” with the children.

No matter where in the world the Revels is set, there are the Revel’s traditions.  There was a rowdy morris dance and “The Lord of the Dance” where we all spill out into the lobby singing and dancing (I can never get enough of doing that), there’s the haunting Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and there’s the mummer’s play, this year with the Red Dragon playing the role of the hero vanquishing the White Dragon of England for the Welsh.   We sing rounds, we shout “Welcome Yule!,”  we finish on “The Sussex Mummers’ Carol,” I weep.  Tradition.

I was entranced as – for me – the Revels never fail to please.  My kids were more antsy.  Welsh-language songs make no sense, and my son said even the English was hard to follow.  My daughter wanted to see a dragon and had to wait a looooong time for a four-year-old, but I think the dragon’s eventual arrival satisfied.  They soldiered through and I think they enjoyed themselves, although they wanted cookies too.

Performances continue through December 27, so get your tickets and go if you haven’t already.

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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.