Tuesday, November 11, 2014

UHF and The Compleat Al (Shout Factory Blu-ray/DVD) - Don't Change that Blu-ray. Don't Touch that Dial.

You know this site isn't only a horror site, right? We do try to branch out and cover other genres and applicable pop cultural entertainment... you know... like porn. Oh and of course the subject of today's review, the creative work of Weird Al Yankovic. I've grown up with Al and loved him along the way with the same wild eyed and rose tinted glasses that one might imagine loving Santa Claus through. Weird Al has done no wrong (save for a hairstyle change or two). Weird Al is honest and his satire is actually more relevant than simply amusing. It should be no surprise that the Shout Factory releases of UHF and The Compleat Al are tributes to the genius that lies beneath and accordion and a dynamic hair style. When you feel like this review may be goofing on you, goofing on Al even, I ask you to think again knowing that there is a love here that goes beyond genre. It is the love of a child for a hero that continues to this day.

Every time I hear the theme song to UHF I get a chill. I remember seeing the commercials for this movie upon it's release and having never seen anything quite like the complete gonzo that it would end up being. Of course I was less familiar with Kevin McCarthy then despite his history in horror (especially the role in Twilight Zone The Movie) and nobody really knew who Michael Richards was just yet. Fran Drescher was a familiar face because I was allowed to watch Doctor Detroit at a young age (and still think it's one of the greatest movie ever made). Then of course there's Al. My great friend Dave and I used to blast Weird Al. He had all the tapes. It was our thing, and it was good. Sure I started to enjoy hair metal and would eventually migrate into a rock background, but my love for parody and novelty music started with Weird Al and worked its way back into the novelty songs of the 60's. Then one day it dawned on me that Al wasn't so weird and that he was much smarter than I gave him credit for. Sure a guy writes a song called Like a Surgeon and you laugh, but he played up the absolute nonsense of the 80's better than even the 1980's could play up itself. It was like pure cocaine without drugs and with better nose jobs. Weird Al was a fast hero for Dave and me and though that love would ebb and flow as Al's material changed, we always loved him. I still think Gangster's Paradise is a bad ass tune. I still get down to Yoda. I dare to be stupid every damn day.

The Shout Factory release of UHF is a 25th Anniversary edition which makes me feel kind of old, however the simple fact that my love for this film and this man endures after so long should say something about the timeless nature of the parody film and parody movie. There are elements of Kentucky Fried Movie behind this flick. In some ways the battle rages on though not for a small UHF channel vs. the network but for independent media production houses vs. big cable. UHF could be made today, be as relevant all be it with a slight upgrade to cast, parody and channel lineup. 25 years and the battle for our minds continue and the man should still be damned. Kevin McCarthy has passed on, but we know his type.

Extras include:
  • Retrospective Panel From San Diego Comic-Con 2014
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Music Video
  • Production Stills
  • Promotional Materials
  • Reversible Cover Art
I love the new cover art and the classic cover as well as the image on the disc. The extras fill out the fan package nicely for a movie that seemed a mere blip on the radar of 80's pop culture. There's quite a bit of love shown here include a new retrospective panel from this past year's SDCC. 

If the release of Weird Al's groundbreaking full length, feature movie release on Blu-ray isn't enough, we also have the DVD release for the first time of The Compleat Al. Yes, it's a mockumentary, but in that it's perfect. That's what Weird Al does. He mocks and jokes albeit with hints of real truth drizzled over the ice cream scoop of clever lyrics and familiar pop tunes. The Compleat Al (and yes that's how you spell it) features music videos for “Ricky,” “I Love Rocky Road,” the award-winning “Eat It,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “This Is the Life,” “Like A Surgeon,” “One More Minute” and “Dare To Be Stupid.” My favorite is still Dare To Be Stupid (next to the theme song for UHF itself. I can only wonder what a generation rediscovering these classics will do with a DVD like this. 

Al is once again taking the world by storm with his parody of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines and making just as much sense as he ever did. My own daughter knows who he is and laughs at his music. 25 years. 25 years ago I was her listening to him laughing the way she laughs at him and maybe not understanding every joke but knowing every word. This is a real treat just before the holidays from Shout Factory. This is nerd gold. 

Turn into channel 62. Let's all drink from the fire hose.

You can pick up The Compleat Al on DVD now.

Synopsis from Shout Factory:

The Compleat Al is the amazing, hilarious and not entirely true story of “Weird Al” Yankovic, the Grammy® award-winning master of musical parody and rock and roll comedy. The mockumentary takes you behind the scenes, beginning with his childhood years, his high school and college days, and up through his early-career rise to stardom. This concocted chronicle also contains classic moments from AL-TV and footage from his trip to Japan, and a somewhat embellished version of how he received permission from Michael Jackson for “Eat It.”

And to top it off, The Compleat Al contains eight “Weird Al” video classics: “Ricky,” “I Love Rocky Road,” the award-winning “Eat It,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “This Is the Life,” “Like A Surgeon,” “One More Minute” and “Dare To Be Stupid.”

You can pick up UHF on Collector's Edition Blu-ray now.

Synopsis from Shout Factory:

Sometimes you've got to grab life by the lips and YANK as hard as you can.

A lot of TV stations have forgotten what "quality" means. But not Channel 62. They NEVER knew what it meant.

In the cult classic UHF, "Weird Al" Yankovic is George Newman, a daydreamer who becomes the manager of a small TV station that's losing money as quickly as it's losing viewers. Before long he's programming shows like "Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse," "Wheel Of Fish" and "Raul's Wild Kingdom." But can Channel 62's new popularity save it from sinister forces? To find out... don't touch that dial!

Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, Michael Richards (Seinfeld), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Fran Drescher (The Nanny), Gedde Watanabe (Sixteen Candles), Victoria Jackson (Saturday Night Live) and more!

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