“Weird Al” Yankovic has carved out a very unique career for himself starting in the 1980s as one of the best musical parody artists the world has ever known. Always a class act, Yankovic always gets artists blessings before parodying them and he and his band always nail the details of reproducing the sound (and in videos, the look) of the original songs. This year marks a big year for Yankovic as his new album Mandatory Fun hit number one on the Billboard charts marking his first number one album ever. To add to this monumentus event, Shout Factory has released not only the 1985 mockumentary The Compleat Al on DVD for the first time, but they also released his brilliant 1989 film UHF for the first time on Blu-ray!
In UHF, George Newman (Yankovic) is a daydreamer that can’t hold down a job. When his uncle wins the deed to a UHF television station on the verge of bankruptcy in a poker game, he decides to give control of the station to George. With a band of misfit employees including a wannabe reporter (Fran Drescher), a dwarf cameraman (Billy Barty), and a strange janitor (Michael Richards), George gets creative and starts bizarre programming that audiences eat up causing the stations rating to bypass its VHF channel counterpart, Channel 8, run by the cynical R.J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy). But when Channel 8 threatens to buy out the station, George and the gang must have a telethon to raise the money to save the station.
I am truly convinced you can’t have much more fun watching a movie than you do with UHF. Yankovic’s signature style of humor is wacky and bizarre but always good natured. The excellent cast are all priceless here, especially the pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards as janitor-turned-kids-show-host Stanley Spadowski. You’ll never look at a firehose the same way again. UHF manages within its storyline to parody pretty much everything that was popular at the time including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo, Kung Fu movies, nature shows, kids programming, commercials and game shows. Yankovic is a brilliant and innovative comedy genius and UHF will always be one of his crowing achievements.
The Blu-ray from Shout Factory has a wonderful new transfer that really makes it hard to believe the film is 25 years old. Crisp and clean with clear and immersive audio, UHF probably didn’t even look this good in the theatre. And as per usual with Shout Factory, you get an awesome bevy of special features including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, the panel from this year’s Comic-Con and much more.
And don’t forget to pick up The Compleat Al on DVD with UHF, they are the perfect double feature. The Compleat Al is a mockumentary chronicling the life of “Weird Al” Yankovic through his childhood, teen and college years, and prolific career. There is some pure gold moments in this faux life story as well as some great moments from AL-TV, his trip to Japan and a brilliant story about how he obtained permission from Michael Jackson to do ‘Eat It’. And along with the mockumentary you also get 8 full videos from Yankovic’s 80’s classics including Ricky, I Love Rocky Road, Like a Surgeon and more.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD. (The Compleat Al is on DVD only).
The Compleat Al: