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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/14/02

1989 (2002) - MGM

review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs


Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/A

Specs and Features

108 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1) and full frame (1.33:1), 16x9 enhanced, double-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with Weird Al Yankovic and Jay Levey), original promotional short, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, UHF music video, Easter eggs, animated film-themed menus with sound, scene access (27 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"…you get to drink from: THE FIRE HOSE!"

UHF is an odd little film. It tested amazingly well, and everyone thought Al was going to make Orion Pictures a mint. Unfortunately, it was quirky, different and opened right in the middle of Bat-mania and the other blockbusters of the summer of 1989. So UHF did a two-week run in the theaters and bolted for the haven of home video and cable, where it finally found an audience. The VHS tape went out of print almost immediately, and the last copies vanished around the same time that Orion bit the dust. Thankfully, the movie that commanded $70-80 for a beat-up copy on Ebay has finally come to DVD in the souped up SE that Al promised his fans... and delivered in spades.

The new 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer shows that this movie is 12 years old and was shot for a paltry $5 million. Aside from some minor league print damage, it exhibits the characteristic 80s softness and color balance. It's nothing to complain about, but it's there. Surprisingly, even the cheesy opticals of the opening sequence hold up pretty well even after all these years, so kudos to the people who shot them. No edge enhancement is visible and I didn't detect any digital artifacting. There is a slight push toward the red in terms of colors, but I think what I may be seeing is the generally warm color scheme of the film. Overall, it's a solid transfer with nothing major to complain about.

The audio is once more the original 2.0 stereo mix, but it seems much cleaner than I remember hearing on the VHS and LD. Many background conversations and choice bits of dialogue are finally comprehensible and, as it should be in an Al movie, the music really kicks. Bass is tight and defined, especially on the "Beverly Hillbillies" number, and the overall scoring also stands out about as much as a 13-year old stereo mix is going to.

Now onto the real fun stuff: the extras. Weird Al is a big home theater fan, judging by the 14 remotes he has in his house, and he obviously loves DVD. When the menus start out, Al comes out and tweaks the positioning of graphics, wipes away smudges and, in general, makes his presence known. Check out the extras menu page especially, since we can assume you are on the widescreen side, click the "deleted scenes" selection and Al will come out to yell at you that you need to flip the disc. Keep clicking and prepare for hilarity. Al proved he was fast with his lips during his first commentary tracks on Weird Al Yankovic: Live! and he continues the tradition here. Joined by director, and longtime Al record producer Jay Levey, Al quips through the entire movie, offering fast facts and general zaniness with Jay in tow providing a more technical end. Surprise guests such as Emo Phillips, Victoria Jackson and Michael Richards pop up from time to time in different ways I don't want to spoil, but it's a total hoot. There's another feature that's only available when watching the commentary, but I don't want to spoil that either. Suffice to say there are two moments to watch for, and one occurs during Stanley's chase in the office. A short promotional featurette from the release of the film is included on this DVD as well - it's better than most fluff pieces ,with few talking heads and lots of B-roll, so on that level I really enjoyed it. More interesting is the 20-minutes worth of deleted scenes that you really do need to flip the disc for. Al isn't too enamored of the scenes, so much so that he tends to fast forward the ones he really hates. As he says, they were transferred from a VHS tape in his closet, so the quality isn't the best. But it's great to see some of those legendary clips! Rounding out the package are posters from around the world and, of course, theatrical trailers and the video for the song UHF.

For the Weird Al fan, UHF is a no-brainer. If you're not into quirky, satirical and silly movies, this one might best be skipped. If you're looking for something you can hand the kids and not really have to worry, UHF is a pretty tame movie, and most of the material that could be deemed offensive will fly over their heads. Al promised a great DVD, if MGM allowed him to do it, and both he and the studio delivered. Recommended as fun for the whole family.

Jeff Kleist
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