Plot: George Newman (“Weird Al” Yankovic) has a lot of dreams and a vivid imagination, but it has caused him nothing but trouble to this point. He’s been fired from countless jobs thanks to his daydreaming and big mouth, booted from every profession from burger flipper to fish market lackey and beyond. He has also caused his friend Bob (David Bowe) many headaches, since when George gets fired, so does Bob. But when his uncle wins a UHF television station in a card game, George is given the chance to let his creative side soar. In this environment, George couldn’t make things worse since the station is almost bankrupt, but knowing George and his imagination, perhaps he could sink the place even further. As George tries to get some things rolling, he soon finds himself insulted by the competition, surrounded by unusual people, and the new employer of Stanley (Michael Richards), a janitor with a mop fixation. The start for U62’s Newman era is a rough one, but some improvements come as George installs new programs. But can George turn this station around, or will it be just another failed attempt to harness his imagination?
Entertainment Value: As you’d expect from a Weird Al movie, UHF is packed with parodies, outlandish humor, and pop culture references, with Al himself right in the middle of it all. The movie has a central narrative, but is also loaded with skits and cutaways, so it has a sketch comedy vibe, just with a linear story present to support all the madness. The tone is pure zaniness and rarely relents, with even exposition and light emotion soaked in a ridiculous sense of humor, so UHF is just for laughs and never tries to be more than that. But while the vibe is random and full of silliness, there is a lot of intelligence masked under the oddball humor, as you’d expect from a sharp comedic mind like Al’s. The main narrative is fun as it unfolds and populates the movie with a number of colorful, memorable characters, then unleashes them into the sketch scenes, packaged as low rent television programs. Not all the skits land, but they’re rapid fire and most are quite humorous, especially the more esoteric ones, like Wheel of Fish, a personal favorite of mine. Of course, this kind of madcap lunacy isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those with an eclectic sense of humor or appreciation for Weird Al, UHF is well worth a look. Supplies!
This material doesn’t ask him to do much outside of his usual routine, but no one else could be George Newman, as only Weird Al Yankovic has the kind of manic, wacky presence the role requires. He also has the non stop enthusiasm George needs and isn’t annoying despite the energy overload, save for the scenes where being annoying feeds into the humor, of course. So his performance is pretty much just Weird Al being Weird Al, but in this case, that is just what the movie needed. You also have to love Kevin McCarthy as our villain and his effort here deserves a place among the best of the stifled, blustering 80s bad guys, which is a real compliment. He is conniving, relentless, and heartless, as well as immense fun to watch. Michael Richards also has a prominent role and his always wired persona adds a lot to the movie, with some obvious threads that would eventually evolve into Seinfeld’s Kramer. The cast also includes Victoria Jackson, David Bowe, Fran Drescher, and Billy Barty.