Like Transformers, UHF—the only movie music parody artist Weird Al Yankovic ever starred in—is a movie that I used to hold in much higher regard than I do now, especially since it influenced the sense of humor I put into my videos.
But unlike Transformers, it still has a favorable place in my heart.
Since it was directed by Weird Al music video veteran Jay Levy who co-wrote with Yankovic, it’s pretty much what you’d expect a Weird Al movie to be like; Weird Al’s character’s overactive imagination and UHF TV station he’s inherited, U-62, are basically excuses for random parodies and skits—including a full-on music video parody of Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing”—to overshadow plot development, not that plot development is left in the dust.
It’s incoherent, relentlessly swinging, hit-or-miss stuff, but when it hits, it hits. The raunchier jokes are never too lurid, and the rough slapstick that earned it the PG-13 rating is too fake and cartoony to be too nasty. What is particularly nasty is how villainized the staff at rival station Channel 8 are whereas the staff at U-62 are nothing but likable. Even then, Kevin McCarthy’s nefarious performance is too caricatured to take seriously.
Part of what makes UHF seem more competent than it is is how solid the performances are all-around; Weird Al himself may be the weakest link a cast filled with quirky characters, my favorite supporter of which being the karate master who’s not afraid to point out when people are being “STUPAAAAAAAAAAAAD!”
As the town citizens ultimately flock to U-62, we’re offered a satire on how trashy television can spawn community-wide followings, which, as Jubilare once pointed out to me, unfortunately resonates with the realities of junk like Game of Thrones.
All-in-all, UHF is mediocre in its storytelling, but it’s not trying to be more. It’s not surprising that it flopped at the box office, but it’s also not surprising that it garnered a cult following—me included. It’s simply mindless goofiness to be enjoyed either after a hard day or especially with a group of friends; I know both options from experience.