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TLO Film Review: UHF (1989)

4:16 AM EST on February 4, 2022

When it comes to the mildly impressive filmography of Tulsa, while many people are quick to remember an Oscar-ready flick like The Outsiders, I’m the jerk that always has to bring up the comedy classic UHF starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, probably one of the reasons why I have very few friends.

A box-office bomb upon initial release, it has since gone on to become an absolute cult classic that many movies wish they could be.

As a matter of fact, a few years ago when I was writing for a shitty alt-weekly that shall remain nameless, I wrote a retrospective that, despite featuring interviews with Yankovic and other personalities from the film, was subjugated to the back of the paper.

Regardless, I’m still pretty proud of the piece, finally giving some much due respect to a movie that, honestly, could still use more of it.

The brainchild of Yankovic and director Jay Levey, the movie has the accordion-playing satirist as George, a lovable loser that inherits a UHF station from his gambler uncle. Widely regarded as the worst channel on the dial, using Weird Al’s comedic skills, he takes the station to number one with programs like Wheel of Fish, Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse, and, my personal favorite, Raul’s Wild Kingdom…he don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!

As you can imagine, the network president across town—who happens to be a nasty parody of humanity himself—doesn’t like this news and plans to buy the station and raze it to the ground, with most of a gracious T-town coming together in a last-ditch effort to save the station in the climax.

Shot in 1989—well over thirty years ago—it’s a testament to Yankovic’s creative genius and staying power that every joke still hits as hard as it did back then. From a Dire Straits parody of the Beverly Hillbillies theme to fake commercials for Conan the Librarian, Gandhi II, and everyone’s favorite superstore, Spatula City, it’s hard to not crave a second installment.

Apparently, Yankovic has an upcoming biopic—I’m guessing that it will be comedic too—to begin filming soon with actor Daniel Radcliffe in the lead. I sincerely hope that he and the production company would pick Tulsa one more time to film this flick. I would say Oklahoma City, but I ain’t going to hold my breath for something like that to happen.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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