UHF is a movie that "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and starred in. The movie was released on June 21, 1989 in the United States.
Plot[edit | edit source]
George Newman (Yankovic) is a chronic daydreamer whose overactive imagination prevents him from holding down a job. When his Uncle Harvey (Stanley Brock) wins failing local TV station Channel 62 in a poker game, his Aunt Esther (Sue Ane Langdon) suggests that he make George the station manager.
George enlists his best friend Bob (David Bowe) to help him run the station and promotes frustrated receptionist Pamela Finkelstein (Fran Drescher) to news reporter. After a chance meeting, George hires dimwitted janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) after he's cruelly fired from his job at local network affiliate Channel 8 by the mean-spirited station manager R.J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy).
Despite George and Bob's efforts, it appears that Channel 62 will be bankrupt within the week; furthermore, George's girlfriend Teri (Victoria Jackson) breaks up with him after he misses her birthday dinner. Despondent, he quits hosting the kiddie show Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse in the middle of a broadcast and impulsively has Stanley take over for him. Stanley's strange but endearing antics turn out to be an instant hit with viewers, and Stanley Spadowski's Clubhous, along with several other quirky problems thought up by George, help Channel 62 become the most popular station in town.
Meanwhile, Uncle Harvey suddenly loses $75,000 in a horse race and must repay the debt in two days. R.J. Fletcher, seeking to put Channel 62 out of business, offers to pay off the debt in exchange for the station. Harvey is tempted to close the deal but gives George a chance to match Fletcher's offer, and George organizes a telethon to raise the money.
The fundraising starts off strong but grinds to a halt after Fletcher sends his goons to kidnap Stanley in order to sabotage the telethon. After Stanley tries to escape, and George attempts to rescue him, Fletcher's goons are finally defeated with the help of George's karate instructor friend Kuni (Gedde Watanabe) and his students.
Furious, Fletcher attempts to smear Channel 62 with a televised editorial. However, Channel 62's eccentric engineer Philo (Anthony Geary) interrupts Channel 8's signal with a candid video he took of Fletcher ranting about his utter contempt for his viewing audience.
The telethon continues with Stanley, but struggles to regain its momentum; the station is almost $2,000 short as the deadline to repay the debt arrives. At the last second, a homeless man (Vance Colvig, Jr.) arrives and offers to buy up the rest of the remaining shares with a stack of cash he received from trading in a single penny Fletcher had given him earlier that turned out to be a collector's item. The last scene of the film showing the staff of Channel 62 celebrating, where Fletcher's rant causes him to be stripped off of his broadcast license, and the film ends with George and Teri reconciling, and then, the film's theme song "UHF" performed by "Weird Al" Yankovic is heard during the closing credits.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- "Weird Al" Yankovic as George Newman
- Victoria Jackson as Teri
- Kevin McCarthy as R.J. Fletcher
- Michael Richards as Stanley Spadowski
- David Bowe as Bob
- Stanley Brock as Uncle Harvey
- Anthony Geary as Philo
- Trinidad Silva as Raul Hernandez
- Gedde Watanabe as Kuni
- Billy Barty as Noodles MacIntosh
- John Paragon as Richard Fletcher
- Fran Drescher as Pamela Finklestein
- Sue Ane Langdon as Aunt Esther
- David Proval as Head Thug
- Grant James as Killer Thug
- Emo Philips as Joe Earley
- Lou B. Washington as the Cameraman
- Vance Colvig Jr. as the Bum
- Barry Friedman as Fletcher Cronie #1
- Kevin Roden as Fletcher Cronie #2
- Nancy Johnson as Big Edna
- Jim West as Guitarist
- Steve Jay on Bass Guitar
- Jon Schwartz on Drums
- Kim Bullard on Keyboard
- Dr. Demento as Whipped cream Eater
- Jay Levey as Gandhi
Reception[edit | edit source]
By Al's account, UHF scored some of the best test screenings in Orion Pictures' history, rivaling the studio's previous hit RoboCop; Orion was apparently looking forward to a long partnership with Al. However, UHF was released in the summer of 1989, which turned out to be one of the biggest years to date for Hollywood blockbuster films; Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Do the Right Thing and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids were all released within a few weeks of UHF? Furthermore, UHF ended up being a critical failure (with both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in particular giving the movie poor reviews). The overwhelming competition and poor response caused UHF to barely make back its budget of $5 million and it was pulled from theaters within weeks. In addition, the accompanying "Weird Al" Yankovic record is one of the lowest-selling studio albums in Al's catalogue.
However, UHF was immensely popular with Al's fanbase and quickly became a cult classic; it enjoyed a resurgence of popularity with video releases and airings on cable TV and is often reviewed well in retrospect. Al has often shown clips from the film between songs in his live shows, and the first DVD release of the film in 2002 was one of the top-selling DVDs that week.
Goofs[edit | edit source]
- In the opening daydream sequence George's Indiana Jones-esque character cuts off the left arm of the gunman, but a right arm falls to the ground. This mistake is mentioned on the DVD commentary.
- When we see George's apartment from outside, a car drives in front of the camera; the camera, the cameraman, and offstage actors are reflected in the side of the car.
- When Philo gives the two wires to George, he wears a glove on his left hand. In the shot where he corrects the distance between the wires, the glove is gone.
- When Joe Earley loses his thumb in the table saw and lifts his arm to examine the wound, his thumb can briefly be seen bent underneath his hand.
- In the same scene, the amount of blood on George's shirt changes from shot to shot after being sprayed by the stump.
- During Pamela's live report at city hall, there is no live truck, and Noodles's camera doesn't have cables or a power supply.
- The commercial for Conan the Librarian states that it's scheduled to air at 7:30pm. A few scenes later George is arranging the programming schedule on a magnetic board, which states that Stanley Spadowsky's Clubhouse airs every day of the week from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.
- Though it's possible that Stanley's show was moved from a morning or after-school time slot to an evening slot after it became more popular.
- When Philo is installing the camera in the ceiling of R.J. Fletcher's office, we see a pencil in his mouth. In the next shot, the pencil's gone.
- When Stanley Spadowsky is tied up in the broom closet and realizes his beloved mop is in the room with the thugs, he has an orange blindfold around his neck. When he breaks free of his ropes and jumps out of the broom closet, the blindfold disappears.
- When the video of R.J.'s rant is played back by Philo, the first sentence ("This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot!") is spoken in a different intonation than when he originally said it.
- Before the shot in which Kuni changes the board to read $75,000, you can see the board changing to read $75,000 over the crowd in the preceding shot.
DVD Version[edit | edit source]
On the DVD, there are special features such as commentary, deleted scenes, and Behind the Scenes.
Easter Eggs[edit | edit source]
- On the Main Menu, highlight Audio Options, and then press down. The knob will highlight. Press it to see Weird Al in the editing room finishing the movie. Then the movie plays.
- Go to the Audio Setup Screen and highlight Francis then hit left. It should highlight the Red Snapper Fish. Press the fish to see a clip of Stanley Spadowsky in his clubhouse talking to his flowers.
- On the Scene Selection menu, highlight Chapters 13-16 then press down. It will highlight the thing between the knobs. Press it to see a scene from the telethon with Fran.
- On the Special Features Menu, highlight "Commentary" and press left. It will highlight "Watch for falling rocks." Press it to see a video of Stanley Spadowsky saying "Be there!" 
Parodies and References[edit | edit source]
- The opening fantasy with George stealing an idol statuette and being pursued by a rolling boulder is a parody of the opening scene of the first Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- The scene in which George makes a mountain out of mashed potatoes is a parody of a similar scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
- Raul's line "Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers!" is a reference to a line from the 1948 film The Treasure of Sierra Madre: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"
- Stanley exclaiming to the TV camera "These floors are dirty as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" is a reference to the 1976 movie Network in which a ranting TV reporter yells into the camera "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
- The movie-within-a-movie Conan the Librarian is a play on Conan the Barbarian, a 1982 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that was adapted from a series of pulp adventure stories.
- The movie-within-a-movie Gandhi II is a supposed sequel to the 1982 biopic Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as the long-deceased leader of India's non-violent independence movement.
- The game show Wheel of Fish is a parody of various game shows that involve spinning a wheel to win prizes, particularly Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right.
- The retooled Town Talk is a parody of several "tabloid" talk shows that became popular in the 1980s:
- George asking direct questions to members of his studio audience is a parody of Phil Donahue.
- His ridiculous guests and open antagonism towards them is a parody of Morton Downey, Jr.
- His coverage of Satanism, the opening of Al Capone's glove compartment, and being hit with a chair are all a parody of Geraldo Rivera; he was one of the first talk show hosts to discuss "Satanic ritual abuse", he hosted a special in which he opened a vault belonging to Al Capone only to find dirt and bottles, and his nose was broken when he was hit by a chair on his show during a brawl between warring racial activists.
- The film's closing scene features George and Teri doing impressions of Humphrey Bogart and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind (1939).
- The "Beverly Hillbillies" dream sequence is a parody of the 1985 hit song "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits and its animated music video.
- The fantasy sequence with George as a musclebound hulk rescuing Stanley from a Vietnamese POW camp is a parody of the 1985 film Rambo: First Blood Part II.
- Sy Greenblum's line "I liked their spatulas so much, I bought the company" in the Spatula City is a reference to Victor Kiam, an American businessman who made a similar claim in ads for Remington Shavers.
- Stay Fit! with Mike and Spike is a reference to Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation.
- Philo's "interocitor" device is a reference to a device of the same name in the 1955 science fiction film This Island Earth. The interocitor as it appears in the original film was also used as a prop in the music video for "Dare To Be Stupid".
- The "1955 doubled-die Denver mint penny" that the bum gets rich from is based on an actual rare coin: the 1955 doubled-die Philadelphia mint penny. A particular batch of pennies minted on a single day in 1955 were stamped incorrectly on the "heads" side, resulting in the numbers and letters being "doubled up". Such a coin is worth at least $700, and one in mint condition can be worth up to $15,000.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The majority of the film was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with an abandoned shopping mall serving as a sound stage. Al mentions the street addresses of numerous locations in the DVD commentary. Most of the extras were hired from either Tulsa or nearby Dallas, and some were paid with KFC and Pizza Hut gift certificates.
- The name "George Newman" is a reference to Alfred E. Neumann, the mascot for Mad magazine, one of Al's biggest comedic influences.
- In addition, Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse is named after a piece that appeared in Mad.
- The name "Stanley Spadowski" is a reference to Stanley Snadowsky, founder of the Bottom Line nightclub in New York City.
- The drink George orders in the bar was supposed to be absurdly over-decorated, but the prop department merely provided a ceramic tiki mug with some umbrellas in it; there was no time to change the prop before shooting had to begin.
- Al wanted Rambo star Sylvester Stallone to have a cameo role in the fantasy sequence that parodies Rambo, but Stallone declined for unknown reasons.
- While shooting scenes with kids, Michael Richards stayed in character as Stanley between takes.
- The script called for Stanley to sing the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" while tied to a chair, but Michael Richards didn't know the words and instead sang the theme song to the TV show Bonanza.
- The fish on the Wheel of Fish were real, and were bought at a local fish market the morning before the scene was shot. However, the scene was not actually shot until the late afternoon on a hot summer day, and this combined with the hot studio lights made for a rather unpleasant olfactory experience.
- Trinidad Silva, who played Raul, was killed shortly after filming most of his scenes in an accident with a drunk driver. A subplot involving Raul's abused poodles taking their revenge on him had to be left out of the film; a scene was shot with a body double covered in poodles, but Al and crew decided not to use it out of respect. Silva's death was one of the reasons Al later turned down a multi-million dollar offer to star in beer commercials.
- Several other actors were considered for various roles:
- The role of Philo was originally written for Al's friend Joel Hodgson, who declined as he was taking a break from acting and performing at the time. A few months after UHF was released, he began hosting the cult classic TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a small UHF station in Minnesota.
- The role of Philo was also offered to Crispin Glover (best known for his role as George McFly in Back to the Future), but Glover was only interested in the role of Crazy Ernie, the used car salesman.
- Jerry Seinfeld was considered for the role of Bob.
- Ginger Baker, best known as the bassist for the English rock trio Cream, auditioned for the part of the beggar that eventually went to Vance Colvig.
- Though the role of Stanley was written with Michael Richards in mind, Christopher Lloyd (best known for playing Emmett "Doc" Brown in the Back to the Future films) was also considered. Richards almost turned down the role, as he happened to be suffering from a bout of Bell's palsy (paralysis in one side of the face) when he was originally asked.
- Jennifer Tilly and Ellen DeGeneres both auditioned for the role of Teri before Victoria Jackson was selected.
- Several actors auditioned for the role of Gandhi, but none were satisfactory. Director Jay Levey eventually stepped in to play the role.
International titles[edit | edit source]
|Country/market||Title||Translation (if applicable)|
|Australia & New Zealand||The Vidiot from UHF|
|Mexico||Los Telelocos||"The Tele-Crazies"|
|Argentina & Uruguay||Canal U-62||"Channel U-62"|
|Germany||UHF – Sender mit beschränkter Hoffnung||"UHF - Transmitter With Limited Hope"|
|French Canada||N'ajustez pas votre appareil||"Do Not Adjust Your Set"|
|Denmark & Sweden||Vidioten||"Vidiots"|
|Finland||Kaapelit irti!||"Loose Cables!"|
|France||Télé ringards||"Cheesy TV"|
|Brazil||TV Pirada||"Crazy TV"|
|Hungary||Az őrület hullámhosszán||"The Wavelength of Madness"|
|Italy||UHF - I video idioti (theatrical)
UHF - I vidioti (DVD)
|"UHF - The Video Idiots"
"UHF - The Vidiots"
|Soviet Union/Russia||Ультравысокая частота||"Ultra-high frequency" (UHF)|
|Norway||Lufta er for alle||"The Air is for Everyone"|
|Greece||Ο πιο κουφός σταθμός στην πόλη||"The Deafest Station in Town"|
يو أتش إف[edit | edit source]
بسامد فرابالا[edit | edit source]
パロディ放送局UHF[edit | edit source]
|"Parody Broadcasting Station UHF"|