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'UHF' (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 21, 1989

"Weird Al" Yankovic lampoons trash TV -- cheesy commercials, game shows, Geraldo Rivera -- in "UHF," a comedy so dumb you're embarrassed to laugh. But sooner or later one of Weird Al's grade-school gags is bound to tickle the food-fighter within. There's the bum who asks for change, then forks over a dollar. Or there's used-car king Crazy Eddie's sales pitch: "If nobody comes down and buys a car from me in the next hour, I'm going to club this baby seal." Or there's the home repair show host who cuts off a finger while demonstrating a buzz saw.

Yankovic, an advocate of the Monty Python and Mel Brooks schools of comedy, favors yechy burlesque, and "UHF," with its scant plot, is basically a variety show with skits, sight gags and gross stuff. "Weird" reminds us there's nothing quite like a good booger joke for pure entertainment.

Yankovic, with his aviator glasses and Art Garfunkelicious hair, looks the wide-eyed schlemiel as George Newman, an unemployed daydreamer who becomes the manager of a tiny UHF station won by his uncle in a poker game. Despite villainous competitors at the local network affiliate, Channel 8, George and his zany friends turn the near-bankrupt Channel 62 into an overnight success.

Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards), fired as Channel 8's janitor, becomes the area's favorite kiddie show host and George its top-rated talksploitation host, tackling such topics as "Nazi lesbian hookers abducted by UFOs and forced into weight loss programs." Other programming includes the made-for-TV movies, "Conan the Librarian" and "Gandhi II," and a game show, "Wheel of Fish."

Yankovic, best known for his rock music sendups, co-wrote this bit of B-movie Americana with sidekick Jay Levey, directing with "Gong Show" finesse. The dumbness just never stops -- just buying a ticket lowers your IQ.

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