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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Importance of community. Acceptance and enjoyment of eccentric entertainment. Importance and place of smaller, community-centered "left of the dial" TV and radio stations, as opposed to bland corporate media whose decisions are dictated by market research and agenda of billionaire owners.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent slapstick violence. Parody of Rambo movies, in which Yankovic looks like Rambo, fires machine guns and missiles, defeating "the enemy" while also blowing up landmarks like Eiffel Tower. Parody of Gandhi; Yankovic is made to look like Gandhi as tough urban plainclothes cop who throws around bad guys in alleys. Yankovic dressed as "Conan the Librarian" takes sword to teen with overdue library book, slices him in half. Man kneed in groin by elderly woman. Mafia henchmen carry guns, take a lead character hostage. Recurring joke of martial arts instructor who throws beginner students out second-story window. Thumb sliced off on table saw, exaggerated spurting blood. Poodle thrown out window of apartment by man who hosts pet-themed TV program.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
During parody of Geraldo-style daytime talk show, topics addressed include "Sex with Furniture," and "Lesbian Nazi Hookers."
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Products & Purchases
Budweiser and Miller Lite bottles clearly shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional wine and beer drinking, cigar smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that UHF is a 1989 comedy in which "Weird Al" Yankovic plays an unemployed daydreamer who's given the chance to run a small and struggling local television station. Most of the humor is what you would come to expect if you have even a passing familiarity with Weird Al's music, and while much of the humor has held up in the years since the movie was first released, there are also some instances of stereotyping that are iffy by today's standards. The Asian characters are all martial arts experts who speak in broken English, are always dressed in their black belt fighting gear, and toss beginning martial arts students out the window of their second-floor facility. The host of an animal-themed show is a Latino man with an exaggerated stereotypical accent. Women are referred to as "chicks" and "broads" in one scene. There's frequent slapstick violence: parodies of the action-movie violence of the Rambo or Conan movies, for instance, and a scene premised on the idea of Gandhi being a tough big-city plainclothes cop who throws the criminals into the dumpsters of back alleys. Guns are used by the mob henchmen who take one of the lead characters hostage. One of the characters slices off his thumb with a table saw; exaggerated blood spurts. A poodle is thrown out of the window of an apartment. A parody of daytime talk shows has topics like "Sex with Furniture" and "Lesbian Nazi Hookers." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Starring the renowned song parodist Weird Al Yankovic, this movie is essentially a Yankovic album in celluloid form. Parodies of movies, TV shows, commercials, food gags, and slapstick humor are in abundance. It isn't highbrow fare by any stretch, but who would want it to be? It's the kind of over-the-top and juvenile humor where you don't want to laugh, but commercials like "Spatula City" and premises like "Conan the Librarian" are so absurd, you laugh in spite of yourself. As an added bonus, the movie features Michael Richards shortly before he would be cast in Seinfeld, appearing to play at times a slower-witted version of Kramer, with similar jerky movements and expressions.
What's interesting about watching UHF years after its release is the deeper message underneath all the silliness. The movie celebrates the eccentric, the unusual, the individual in a world of drab conformity. In some ways, it's a celebration of "geek" years before "geek chic." UHF also champions "the little guy" in the media landscape. Channel 62 is a small, wacky, community-centered television station taking on the bland big-media conglomerate -- obviously a prescient portent of the current media landscape. It's also the celebration of the type of "ground up" low-budget entertainment one is now likely to find on YouTube. Or, if you don't want to be an overly analytical movie reviewer about it, UHF is simply enjoyable for its own sake.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.