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UHF (1989) - Let's Get Weird

Hello all, Margaret here to ask: in our Year of the Month, 1989, did anyone guess what cultural endurance "Weird Al" Yankovic would have?
By all rights he should have faded into obscurity after his surprising burst of mainstream popularity in the late 80s. Yet somehow, not only has he enjoyed a steady career these past 25 years, Weird Al is actually almost hip right now, coming off of 8 ultra-viral music videos, a spot in this year's Emmy telecast, and a #1 album on the Billboard chart. Capitalizing on this moment in the sun, Weird Al recently announced plans to write (and possibly direct) a second film. His first, released in 1989 during that early burst in popularity, was the critically maligned cult classic UHF. [more...]

He co-wrote it with his manager Jay Levey, who also directed. The plot: shiftless dreamer ends up in charge of crummy local TV station, fills it with ridiculously eccentric programming, surprises everyone with wild success. Weird Al himself, exquisitely be-permed, plays the lead. 



(Can you believe that this was expected to be a blockbuster hit? 1989 was a weird year.)
 The movie takes numerous rambling detours into the various bizarre tv programs and non sequitur daydreams, and Weird Al's brand of acting involves a lot of talk-screaming and gesticulating. UHF, to put it gently, is not for everyone. (True story: in my school days I would bring my copy to every sleepover and no one, not ever, would agree to watch it.) It's is even a bit of an outlier in the pantheon of cult movies-- its weirdness is too intentional for it to play as camp, and there's an earnestness to the humor that keeps it from being at all cool.
For his second movie, Weird Al has explicitly precluded a UHF sequel. But what about a spin-off? There's more than enough weird to supply a feature in the fake TV shows featured in UHF. 

A film based around Wheel of Fish (the game show where you win your weight in fish or you win NOTHING!) could make for a nail-biting thriller, and I'm frankly surprised that some studio exec hasn't already cashed in on the obvious sequel potential for Gandhi. Perhaps now is not the right time for a movie spin-off of Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse, which would entail a lot of Michael Richards yelling about things. The wonderful world of Spatula City is ripe for a fantastical animated feature-- Pixar, are you listening? Personally, I'd love to see Conan the Librarian get off the ground. I'm sure Arnold Schwarzenegger could clear his calendar. 
Which do you think has the most feature potential? And if you're a non-fan, how are you tolerating Weird Al's cultural resurgence?

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Reader Comments (3)

Oh my gosh, I need to break out my UHF dvd and give it a rewatch. LOVED Weird Al and this movie as a kid. I wonder what I'll think of it as an adult..

August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

I'm one of those that is in total support of having Weird Al perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show. The man has been around for a very long time and he's managed to create one hell of a career. He is due for some serious accolades and I for one would love to see him do another film. This time, he would direct it and it could be anything. Plus, I think he should have it premiere in film festivals and build an audience from there.

August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

I started as a non-fan. The first time I saw UHF I hated it. Not sure when exactly that changed (college maybe?), but I would definitely support Weird Al at the Superbowl, in the cineplex, or anywhere else he feels like gracing us with his particular brand of weirdness..

August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

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