Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Somewhere there is an audience for "UHF," I have no doubt, and somewhere this weekend someone may laugh at some of its attempts at humor. "Weird Al" Yankovic has had a lot of success with his parodies: songs and music videos spinning off of Michael Jackson and other easy targets. But this is the dreariest comedy in many a month, a depressing slog through recycled comic formulas. Those who laugh at "UHF" should inspire our admiration; in these dreary times we must treasure the easily amused.
The movie is a satirical anthology, like "Kentucky Fried Movie" or "Amazon Women on the Moon," aimed at television. It's a series of half-baked parodies of bad TV, strung together with the notion that Yankovic has been given control of an obscure UHF station somewhere in the heartland and is making up his program schedule as he goes along. Yankovic plays a dedicated loser named George Newman, who stumbles into the TV job after his uncle wins the station while playing poker. He fires the station's executives, gives the janitor his own show and is as surprised as anyone when the station's ratings begin to improve.
As movie ideas go, this isn't a bad one. But Yankovic is so happy to have a laugh - any laugh - that he forgets that discipline is a key element in comedy. When anything goes, nothing is funny; the great movie comedies work by establishing the rules in their universes and then testing them. In the case of "UHF," for example, Yankovic should have decided if he wanted to string together a series of TV parodies or make a movie about the rescue of a fly-by-night TV station.
He has decided to do both, and so the movie alternates uneasily between the story line, which involves the fate of the station, and a lot of self-contained parodies that do not share the same reality as the rest of the film.