1989. Directed by Jay Levey.
Imagine a film that is 97 minutes of incoherent, genius, comedic indulgence and a doorway into the mind of the legendary Weird "Al" Yankovic. That is Jay Levey's cult, box office nuclear warhead UHF.
George is a mild mannered guy with a big imagination that keeps him from holding down a job. When his gambling uncle winds up with the deed to a UHF cable channel, George is put in charge. Eschewing normal programming, UHF becomes an overnight success due to it's ridiculous and hilarious programming. This draws the ire of the big cable network who then seeks to undo the creative freedom that UHF stands for.
This film is just a silly slapstick blast from start to finish. It's the definition of "doesn't take itself seriously" while at the same time offering some candid and mostly poorly delivered ruminations on the stranglehold corporations have on creativity. Yankovic and Levey (his manager) shopped the script around for years before Orion Pictures was brave enough to give them 5 million. It debuted in a summer filled with titans and was quickly forgotten and pulled from theaters. Years later, it offers some genuine laughs coupled with some interesting ideas about the Hollywood machine versus the little guy.
The film is a surreal series of imagined trailers and commercials for properties from Yankovic's mind. Gandhi II, Conan the Librarian, and a Rambo parody make notable appearances, while a musical mutation of Dire Straits is the standout. The extremely unique presentation of these vignettes is captured in a madhouse fashion by David Lewis' camera that frames each farcical short like a shotgun blast to the funny bone. It's a string of insane idea after insane idea that leaves you smiling while shaking your head in disbelief at the absurdity on display. "Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by Aliens and Forced into Weight Loss Programs" is a phrase that is uttered in this film. If that isn't enough to get your buy in, look elsewhere.
Michael Richards (of Seinfield fame) steals the show as the channel's breakout star who is a child like comedic savant, while the supporting cast if filled with various b movie legends like Billy Barty, Gedde Watanabe, Fran Drescher, and Kevin McCarthy.
Available now for digital rental UHF is a film that you'll forget almost instantly in one moment and then recall with equal speed when you're reminded of it's hysterics. It imprints on the comedic soul with it's dollar store charm and that's enough to make it an excellent popcorn side splitting cinematic event.