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Review of UHF 4K: Always and Forever

Review of UHF 4K: Always and Forever

Generation X has a deep affection for Weird Al Yankovic. Known for his nerdy charm, he ranks just below Mister Rogers as one of history’s most endearing, family-friendly entertainers, despite some dark themes in his songs. However, much to the surprise of those unfamiliar with his career’s ups and downs, Yankovic’s venture into film, the 1989 movie “UHF,” was a box-office failure.

The timing was partly to blame. Orion Pictures released “UHF” in the summer of 1989, a season dominated by blockbusters like “Batman,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Ghostbusters II,” and “Lethal Weapon 2”. Yankovic’s movie was quickly overshadowed and disappeared from theaters within two weeks. His career also hit a rough patch until he found his footing again with a parody of Nirvana at a culturally pivotal moment.

Despite its rocky start, “UHF” has grown fondly regarded over time. The title, referring to a now-antiquated television frequency, is less understood today. Faced with this overseas, Yankovic considered renaming it. The suggestion, “The Vidiot,” transformed into “The Vidiot From UHF,” which arguably made even less sense. Nonetheless, the film has been released on every major home video format since VHS, and this week it makes its debut in 4K Ultra HD. Fans of Weird Al are likely eager to add it to their collections, but is it worth investing in another format?

The film’s plot is straightforward: an underdog achieves unexpected success. This premise serves as a vehicle for Yankovic’s various parodies of TV shows, commercials, and movies. Adding to its energy is the first lead role from Michael Richards, pre-Seinfeld, playing a quirky janitor-turned-kid-show host. Richards’s performance foreshadows his later success as Kramer and brings a dynamic comedic force to the film that remains impressive.

Yankovic, who co-wrote the script with his manager Jay Levey (also the director), shines effortlessly on screen. With a background in music videos requiring sharp comedic timing, he fits naturally into his role. He plays George Newman, a fast-food cook who becomes a TV station manager, yet retains the essence of Weird Al throughout.

Joining Yankovic, different comedic talents round out the cast. Anthony Geary brings a deadpan charm as a mad scientist, while David Bowe (not Bowie!) plays the straight man as George’s best friend. Early career Fran Drescher showcases her comedic potential as an ambitious newswoman, accompanied by veteran Billy Barty. SNL’s Victoria Jackson serves effectively as Yankovic’s love interest. Though each character seems from a different movie, their interactions feel genuine and cohesive.

Much like Mad Magazine, “UHF” targets a younger audience with humor that is more likely to elicit chuckles than belly laughs from adults. Yankovic’s comedy is non-malicious, making fun of pop culture without offending those being parodied. Some jokes, such as those involving Gandhi in brownface or culturally insensitive accents, haven’t aged well but don’t feel overtly harmful. Most references to ’80s pop culture remain relevant, making the humor accessible.

The 4K set includes extras from previous Blu-ray and DVD releases. It features a Comic-Con panel discussion between Yankovic and Jonah Ray, an informative and amusing commentary track by Yankovic and Levey with guest spots from the cast, behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and still galleries. These extras provide insights into the film’s production and Yankovic’s humor.

So, is the new 4K release worth it? The visual upgrade is clear, with improved color balance and resolution, maintaining the film’s original grain. While die-hard fans will appreciate the refined visuals and comprehensive extras, casual viewers who already own the Blu-ray might not find the upgrade essential. For those new to “UHF,” this edition is undoubtedly the best version to own.

“UHF” is quintessential Weird Al: funny, charming, and mildly weird. It may not sustain endless rewatchability for everyone, but for dedicated fans, it’s a treasure worth revisiting. Those who appreciate Yankovic’s music will likely enjoy the film more than once, although its appeal might be more limited for others. The commentary and extras add significant value, making the package worthwhile for collectors and newcomers alike.

Source: ComingSoon