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Monday, 12 November 2018

Retro Review: UHF (1989)

Cast: Weird Al Yankovic, Fran Drescher, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $6 million

Plot: An unemployed visionary becomes the manager of a local public station and the station becomes a success, with an assortment of sight gags and wacky humour

'Unengaging Story, Not Humourous and Funny Enough I'm In The Minority- Or Be It Majority On This One'

Towards the end of the 1980s, studio Orion, home of Robocop suffered a financial crisis and was banking on the release of U.H.F to become the huge success that pulled them out of the red. Though arguably it was the pitiful softcore thriller, Illegal In Red that spelt the end for Orion in 1995, U.H.F sadly killed all of its hopes.

A hapless dreamer has plans to open up his own TV station with an array of programming, as well as skits, parodies. 

UHF is a problematic watch for several reasons: firstly, the main plot is just boring and fails to ignite any real interest in the story and its characters; secondly, the humour doesn't hit the mark with the flat gags, no genuine build-up of the gags and punch-lines that lead up to the comedy, and it feels like a sketch show, rather than a full-on comedy film. 

Fran Drescher whose antics on the sitcom, The Nanny, put a smile on my face, yet whose movie efforts have been mostly derisory and forgettable, delivers what is probably her best feature film turn. She had never been better in a film, especially a comedy film and it's unfortunate that her role is rather brief and that she wasn't in it enough to breathe more life into the film, which it so desperately needed; right after UHF, her follow-up film turns in offerings such as The Beautician and the Beast, Cadillac Man, Jack to name, were not worth talking about. But for Drescher, everyone else looks bored and lack enthusiasm, with Victoria Jackson's annoying voice that she puts on. After the stinker that is Casual Sex?, Jackson's poor showing in UHF, the following year, pretty much derailed her film career, whilst pre-Cosmo Kramer, Michael Richards, before his success on the sitcom, Seinfeld turns in an early performance. & though he is supposedly a funny guy, Weird Al Jankovic, himself, didn't do much that was entertaining or funny enough. 

The spoofs and parodies of films here seemed derivative and yet unlike the original Naked Gun and Airplane!, it wasn't executed well at all and UHF suffers from long, dull stretches, which really took my attention away from the story and characters. 

This was a hugely disappointing watch and as a comedy, almost none of it gels well together. I barely laughed or smiled on more than one occasion. What might have worked for some people, especially back in 1989, doesn't seem to hold up in 2018 when it comes to the humour, which leans more towards the niche & nerdy side of things, and the story bored me to no end that it fell apart. It wasn't a hit almost 30 years ago with audiences and critics, and nearly 30 years on, from my viewing of it, UHF still doesn't resonate well as a comedy film. 

I would have definitely loved this if it was as humourous and entertaining as Airplane! and The Naked Gun and whereas, UHF has been cited as an influence on 1992 Wayne's World, at least that movie was consistently entertaining and absurd and in a good way that is. Sadly, I cannot say the same for this effort. 

Final Verdict:

UHF is a scattershot comedy which is completely all over the place, and one I found almost inaccessible, and whilst it is a hailed as a cult classic these days, personally, it felt like it wasn't interested in telling a story or developing the characters but was more in tune in churning out the wry one-liners, sketches and goofy distractions. & for a character in Weird Al Yankovic, surprisingly, he and his performance seemed very one-dimensional. 

There are a couple of laughs and of course, there is a niche audience for this film, but with others like myself, we will see to it it didn't offer a whole lot that was entertaining and humourous enough and will end up tuning out, instead of tuning in. 

For fans of Weird Al only.

I hate to say this, but it just didn't work for me. Sorry. 


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