Netflix Pick: UHF Will Rot Your Brain
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Leave a comment
This week, I crossed a movie off of my comedy nerd list of shame. I was aware of the cult following of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s absurdist sketch film, “UHF,” and I’d been a fan of his parody songs since I was a kid. For some reason, however, I’d just never gotten around to seeing the movie. Thanks to Netflix, I was recently able to right that wrong.
“UHF” very loosely tells the story of a chronically out-of-work George Newman (Yankovic) as he stumbles onto the deed for a pathetically low-rated public access UHF station. Hi-jinks ensue, money needs to be raised, complications arise, so on and so forth. Really, the plot serves as a mechanism by which Yankovic and co-writer/director Jay Levey deliver a series of absurd and satirical sketches parodying pop culture.
From the opening scene, it is very clear what kind of movie “UHF” is trying to be. We see a spot-on parody of the opening scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” full of sight gags and moments of slapstick that are each more silly than the last. It’s instantaneously full of broad physical comedy and punny wordplay, and never ever lets go of that tone and pace for the entire 90ish minute runtime. This is both a blessing and a curse, but ultimately gives the movie its notable character and charm.
For fans of Weird Al’s trademark song stylings, the movie has a handful of fun and hilarious musical numbers. The vast majority of the sketches are quite clever and funny as well. Unfortunately, like many films with a sketch comedy tone, it does start to wear out its welcome as it goes on. It moves along so quickly that when it attempts any moments of actual character or heart, those moments just fall completely flat. None of the characters really earn any genuine likability, with the possible exception of Stanley Spudowski (played by Michael Richards), whose relentless positivity and love of all things janitorial make for a few moments that are actually endearing.
Overall, “UHF” is a mixed bag. Its manic tone and satirical style are entertaining, but feel spread a bit thin over the feature length runtime. Despite that, it features some really fantastic sketches and classic pop culture parody, as well as some fun songs by Weird Al Yankovic. If you’re a fan of his sense of humor, as I am, then you’ll likely find a lot to love in this film. It’s silly, slapstick, stupid, and smart, and might have been overlooked by some people who only know Weird Al from his more popular hits.
Plus, if you find the marble, you get to drink from the fire hose.