UHF - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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UHF


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Movie: :4stars:
4K Video: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4stars:




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Movie

Maybe it’s just me showing my age, but I felt REALLY old this year. A few months ago when I was reviewing the Weird Al “Parody” biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe I mentioned to one of my much younger co-workers at the bar where I moonlight that I was stoked to see the Weird Al biopic to which she responded “who’s Weird Al?”. Flabbergasted I immediately described who he was, what type of music was his “schtick” and she responded with “oh, so he’s kind of like the oldies. You know, the 90s?”. I now feel old.

Anyways, back in the 80s Weird Al was sort of on the upswing towards his peak in terms of his popularity. He had just come off the high of his “Even Worse” album where he parodied everyone from Michael Jackson to Tiffany, and Al started leaning towards making a movie. But not any movie I might add. Al’s unique disposition and musical style meant that he wasn’t going to turn into a movie star like Hollywood did with Elvis (and tried to do with Madonna), so he did what he did best. Made a movie that felt like it was at home in one of his parody music videos. And thus, UHF was born.

UHF tells the story of George Newman (Weird Al), perpetually unemployed guy who didn’t have much going for him besides his girlfriend Teri (Victoria Jackson). He gets fired from every job he starts, and now he and his roommate Bob (David Bowe, who looks like a skinny Sam Kinnison in this flick) are out of work. Well, his uncle Harvey (Stanley Brock) has an old UHF TV station on the edge of town, and at the behest of his wife, gives Bob and George jobs managing the dilapidated TV station (figuring the two can’t do any harm to a TV station that no one watches.

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Arriving on the scene, Bob and George give it the old college try, only to find out that they’re losing money hand over fist and are going to be bankrupt by the end of the week. That is until they find magic in the form of Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards, just as he was starting on Seinfeld), a slightly “touched” janitor who just so happens to turn George’s failing kid’s show into a smash hit. Before you know it George and Bob were crafting an entire alternative form of television entertainment surrounding Stanley and his ubiquitous kids show, and bit by bit, yank themselves up the ladder of success. But like every good story, there HAS to be a villain, and that villain comes in the form of R.J. Fletcher (played by veteran character actor Kevin McCarthy), head of the enormous syndicated Channel 8 station. You see, Fletcher doesn’t handle competition well, and makes it his mission to destroy the UHF station and gain back his market share, leaving George, Bob and Stanley to try and figure out a plan to save the network before the big guys bulldoze the station and turn it into a parking lot.

UHF is quite simply Weird Al in non singing form. The entire film is basically one nonstop set of sketches in long form story method. It’s silly, goofy to the EXTREME, but somehow became that endearing family friendly film (despite the PG-13 rating) that garnered a massive cult following over the last 35 years. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but I still get a kick out of the various “Weird Al’isms” on screen, as well as Michael Richardsd amping everything up to level 11. But as funny as Al is, Kevin McCarthy as the mustache twirling super villain is probably the most iconic. Kevin is an absolute legend at playing heels, and his over the top, cigar chomping, villainy is the perfect foil to amp up Al and Richard’s zany comedy.



Rating:

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA




4K Video: :4stars: Video: :4stars:
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According to Shout! Studios UHF sports a brand new 4K remaster from the original negative (for both the 4K UHD disc and the included Blu-ray) and it looks rather nice. I don’t have the 2014 Blu-ray to compare against, but comparing against the newly mastered Blu-ray included in the combo pack the differences are subtle, but still quite appreciable. The film was shot with a $5 million budget (even in 1989 that was peanuts) and shot on 35mm film that looked a bit grainy and rough. However, the 4K image looks really nice, with slightly better textural details and a much more refined color palette with the Dolby Vision. The flick is distinctly grainy, but never obtrusively or annoyingly so, and the detail levels across the board are quite nice.

The upgrades in detail levels are not MASSIVE, but still distinct, but the real benefit comes from the Dolby Vision color grading. The Blu-ray looks a bit over brightened and garish with the colors. Reds could be a bit hot and almost neon in their intensity, while the 4K UHD looks a good bit dimmer, with much more controlled primary colors that still pop, but don’t look over saturated. There’s still some splotches and speckles here and there, but overall this 4K UHD is a good improvement over the new Blu-ray, let alone the decade old Blu-ray that came from an older scan.








Audio: :4stars:
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The 25th Anniversary Blu-ray that Shout! Put out in 2014 had a 2.0 LPCM uncompressed track, but this time they have encoded it in the standard DTS-HD MA format. I sadly don’t have the 2014 disc in hand to compare against, but I would hazard a weeks pay that the only Shout! Did differently was to take the same audio master and use the DTS wrapper for it. Meaning I doubt there’s any real difference outside of a possible level matching. That being said, the 2.0 track does everything quite nicely. UHF is not exactly a huge and expansive audio experience, and considering it was shot with a measly $5 million they weren’t making a mega blockbuster audio for us anyways. It’s simple, got good dialog replication, and the musical numbers come through just fine. I don’t have anything negative to say about it, and about the only thing I COULD say is that it is….well...a simple track.







Extras: :3stars:
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Disc One - 4K UHD
• Audio Commentary with "Weird Al" Yankovic and director Jay Levey

Disc Two - Blu-ray
Retrospective Panel From San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Audio Commentary with "Weird Al" Yankovic and director Jay Levey
Deleted Scenes
Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Music Video
Production Stills
Easter Eggs
Promotional Materials












Final Score: :4stars:


Weird Al has always been this incredibly sweet and family friendly character for as long as I can remember. Growing up on his music it was clear that this wasn’t a guy you were going to see in the news getting drunk and smashing his guitar over a fan’s head, or really hear any controversy about. He’s always been this enthusiastic nerd with a love for comedy, and it really shows here with the shoe string budgeted film that he created all the way back in 1989. It’s cute, family friendly (despite a VERY light PG-13 rating) and a lot of fun if you’re into the Dr. Demento/Weird Al style of comedy. The 4K UHD looks really nice and thankfully Shout! Studios has put the new remastered Blu-ray in the combo pack as well for those of us who want to upgrade the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray from a decade ago. All in all, a fun film a good watch for those of us who look good old “Weird” Al.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Weird Al Yankovitch, Victoria Jackson, Charles Holloway, Michael Richards, Fran Drescher
Directed by: Jay Levy
Written by: Weird Al Yankovitch, Jay Levy, Charles Holloway
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Shout! Studios
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 2nd, 2024
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Recommendation: Fun Watch

 
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