[box cover]

UHF

Making the transition from pop singer to actor isn't hard to conceive — Prince, Madonna, and even Vanilla Ice made the jump onto the big screen, so there's no precedent being set when "hot" stars break into the world of cinema (2002 has already seen both Mandy Moore and Britney Spears headlining films). What is hard to conceive is that pop-song spoofer "Weird Al" Yankovic was given a movie of his own. Well, maybe not too hard: Yankovic — the offspring of Dr. Demento and Mad magazine — made a name for himself in the '80s by making music videos that were essentially parodies of other famous videos, like "Fat," his parody of "Bad," and "Eat It," his parody of "Beat It." Sometimes Yankovic would take over MTV and turn it into ALTV, where he would makes jokes and show his and other parody videos (remember when music videos being interrupted by standard programming was rare on MTV?) UHF, his 1989 motion picture debut, was (not surprisingly) ambivalently received at the box office but spawned enough of a loyal following to get a special edition release on DVD. Young dreamer George Newman (Yankovic) is having trouble keeping his girlfriend around and a roof above his head until his uncle wins a UHF television station on the verge of bankruptcy in a poker match. George's uncle lets him run it, but things don't go well until the station's new janitor Stanley Spadowski (Seinfeld's Michael Richards) is put on a kids show and becomes an instant sensation. Soon, other wacky shows are put on the air (best of them is "Wheel of Fish" hosted by Gedde Wannabe and who's catch phrase is "You so stupid!"). Channel 62 is a hit, but that doesn't sit well with R. J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy), the head of a network-affiliated station, and who's soon gunning for 62. Light Capra-isms aside, UHF is a genial effort filled with likable characters, good-heartedness, and a couple of gags that outstay their welcome (the film opens with a running-time-padding parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark). But good satire is mean and sharp, and this is anything but — leaving UHF too nice to step up with some truly wicked gags, but too silly to deserve scorn. If you like Weird Al, you're better off watching his music videos, one of which is included on this super deluxe MGM DVD release, which features the film in both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and in pan and scan, with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Included is a commentary by director Jay Levey and Yankovic (with brief appearances by Emo Phillips, Michael Richards, and Victoria Jackson). The track is surprisingly informative, with Yankovic providing solid information along the way. Also here is a behind-the-scenes featurette, cut scenes, trailers, posters, still galleries, and a couple of Easter eggs. Keep-case.
—DSH



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