Welcome to “Mikey’s Wild Kingdom” – it’s this week’s MYHNSBH!
It’s time for another “Movies You Have Not Have Seen….But You Should”. This week’s edition looks at another classic 80s comedy. This time we will look at the 1989 cult classic UHF. This film stars the talented parody maker “Weird Al” Yankovic (who also co-wrote the script).
The story centers on the character of George Newman (played by Yankovic). Newman is a constant daydreamer (and whose daydreams tend to be parodies of popular movie and TV franchises). His daydreaming seems to get in the way of his real life as he can’t seem to hold onto any job for a long period of time. It also gets him in trouble with his girlfriend Teri (played by Victoria Jackson, best known for her years on Saturday Night Live). However, it seemed his imagination would turn into a benefit. His uncle Harvey won in a poker game the ownership of Channel 62, a rundown UHF station (for those who are too young to know what that is, UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency, those were local channels that were typically not network affiliates and had a lot of reruns or local shows). George is put in charge of the station and along with his buddy Bob (played by character actor David Bowe) try and get the station up to shape. Some of the staff of the station include receptionist (and occasional news reporter) Pamela Finkelstein (played by Fran Drescher, best know for her role in the tv show The Nanny), cameraman Noodles MacIntosh (played by longtime actor Billy Barty), and engineer Philo (played by Anthony Geary, best known for his role on the TV daytime soap General Hospital). The villains in the film are the ones who run the VHF (Very High Frequency) station in town. This includes the owner R.J. Fletcher (played by Kevin McCarthy, who was also in such films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Death of a Salesman & Twilight Zone: The Movie). The competition between the two stations heats up when Channel 62 soars in the ratings due to the wildly popular “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse” which is hosted by the unlikeliest of host, janitor Stanley Spadowski (played by Michael Richards, who would go on to be known for his role as Cosmo Kramer on the popular 90s sitcom Seinfeld). How will things turn out for George and Channel 62? You have to tune in to find out.
The reason UHF is a cult classic is simple. It is a good movie that was released at the wrong time of the year. 1989 was a year that a lot of blockbuster films came out in theaters. Here is just a brief list of films released that summer: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters 2, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and License to Kill. Needless to say, when UHF debuted in theaters on July 21, 1989, it didn’t do well at the box office. For as bad as it did at the box office though, it did make more at the box office (a little over $6 million) than its budget (which was at $5 million). As the years have gone by, it has grown in popularity and has become like I said a cult classic.
UHF is available on DVD & streaming on Amazon Prime Instant. If you’re a fan of “Weird Al” Yankovic, this movie needs to be a part of your DVD collection (if it isn’t already). If you need a film to watch that makes you laugh, this is that film. It’s a funny, feel good film that you may not have seen, but you should.