A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

State of the blog update

I’d like to share something with you, our faithful readers.  We have just completed what we hope is a mostly accurate inventory of our film collection (excluding serialized anime and television shows) and the count is 405 movies.  So if we don’t buy another movie in the next year we will be done with our project by May of 2011.  And we WILL be buying more movies.  A lot more movies.  This week alone (that’s since Sunday) I have bought 21 new DVDs and we’ve reviewed 4.  I have several on pre-order already.  And we have plans for next weekend which involve buying probably four more before the end of next week.

Clearly this initial surge has to abate eventually.  We will at some point have bought all the movies that we want in our collection that are currently available. Hollywood does not produce seven movies a week that we will want to own.  It remains to be seen just how many movies are already out there that we need to get.. but doing this inventory has revealed some glaring omissions, so we anticipate adding a lot of titles in the coming months.

Just thought you’d like to know where things stand.

(I’m working on formatting our blog homepage to include a ticker of how many movies remain in our collection to be reviewed.)

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March 18, 2010 Posted by | we want information | , | Leave a comment

Movie 18 – UHF

UHF – March 18, 2010

I’m going to come right out and say it: I love Weird Al. Yes, he can be incredibly cheesy, but that’s the point, and often the source of his charm. I’ve loved his music for years and I’ve loved UHF since the first time I saw it. It’s sort of a channel flip movie, since it has a number of sketches and short pieces meant to be commercials or tv shows, but they’re presented as being either fantasies inside Weird Al’s character’s head, or programming on the UHF tv station he runs for the majority of the movie. So it’s all within a plot as opposed to Amazon Women on the Moon and Kentucky Fried Movie, which present themselves with the idea that you the viewer are the one watching television and flipping channels.

Quick plot overview: George Newman, played by Weird Al, has a history of hopping from crap job to crap job, none of which appreciate (or need) his great imagination. After getting fired from his latest job at Burger World, he’s given the chance to manage a UHF tv station his uncle won in a poker game. The station shows all reruns and no one watches it and it’s about to go down the drain. The employees are all oddballs who couldn’t get hired elsewhere (except Philo – almost played by Joel Hodgeson – who it turns out really liked it there) and oh, it seems so hopeless! Until amongst George’s new homemade lineup he stumbles upon a hit: A children’s show starring his janitor, Stanley Spadowski (hired after being fired from another network’s office building). Well! Then the station’s ratings start going up! And suddenly they’re worth a lot of money! The other network doesn’t like that, so they work to buy out the station and put them out of business. So George stages a telethon to try and save the network. Three guesses as to whether he manages.

But while the plot and its trappings are fun and all, what makes the movie are the shows and ads George puts on his station: Wheel of Fish (featuring two of our favorite lines, delivered by Gedde Watanabe: “Red snapper, hmm? Very tasty!” and “What’s in the box? NOTHING! STUPID! YOU’RE SO STUPID!”), Town Talk (featuring the local clumsy shop teacher, played by Emo Philips), Raul’s Wild Kingdom (You know, poodles don’t fly. Also? “Turtles are nature’s suction cups!”), and SPATULA CITY! Seriously, this movie is so very quotable. Spatula City is said every time we go looking for our spatula.

It’s a bizarre little movie. Definitely a cult hit. It’s definitely a television-based version of what Weird Al does more with music. Not as reliably funny and the tone of obvious over-the-top parody can come off as a little much at times, but it’s still got more than enough laughs to make it worth watching. For me, at least. It might not play so well to people who’ve always lived in a time of cable and satellite television and who’ve never even heard of UHF stations. The fashion (notably George’s girlfriend’s wardrobe) is horrifically dated. The actual plot is pretty predictable, but I get the impression that was intentional too. That being said, for me? It’s got enough nostalgic nods and references in addition to the great parodies to make me grin. Also, I highly recommend the commentary track. We didn’t watch it tonight, but it’s one of the best commentaries I’ve ever listened to. And I’ve listened to a lot.

Tomorrow we’ll finally get to the long-delayed 300.

March 18, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 4 Comments

UHF

March 18, 2010

UHF

A word about Weird Al Yankovic.  In my youth I listened to the Doctor Demento show every week.  I even recorded some episodes on audio cassette so I could listen to the “funny five” again on my walkman on the way to school.  As far as I’m concerned Alfred can do no wrong.  (Although I’m not sure what the fervor was over his recent Charles Nelson Riley video was.)  I did see this movie multiple times while it was in the theaters (meaning that I was probably responsible for half of the movie’s total receipts if you believe that it was the bomb that it is purported to have been according to the commentary track.)

I love the cast of this film.  This movie will always be what I think of when I remember Fran Drescher, although it’s not what she’s best known for by the greater populace.  And of course the whole film is stolen by that guy who plays Stanley Spadowski.  I think he was in something else after his movie.. but I never watched that.  Even the supporting roles are great, like Emo Philips, Billy Barty and Gedde Watanabe.  Pretty much everybody gets to bring a few laughs to the party except for poor Victoria Jackson, who is stuck being the waspish foil for Al throughout the whole film.

We bunched this movie in with the “channel flip” films because Al Yankovic’s style is based on quick parody, and there are several little sketches mixed in this film although they’re integrated as daydreams of the main character (George Newman) and his over-active imagination.  We have spoofs of Indiana Jones, Rambo, and the utterly brilliant Dire Straits/Beverly Hillbillies mix song.  And all the ads they show on U-62 (George’s TV station) are fantastic.  Amanda and I often make reference to Spatula City.  “What better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a spatula?”

Other frequent quotes:

“Red Snapper!  Very good eating!”

or

“Stupid!! You’re so stupid!!!”

or

“Lesbian Nazi hookers, abducted by UFOs and forced into weight loss programs.  All this week on Town Talk!”

I do wonder how the film reads to anybody seeing it for the first time now.  If you’ve never seen the original video for “Money for Nothing” what do you make of the crappy eighties computer graphics in the music video parody (they really were cutting edge graphics at the time!  I swear!)  And in the day of 500 cable channels who remembers local UHF television broadcasts?  Now I feel old.

Oh, and I already quickly mentioned the commentary track, but I should like to mention it again.  Weird Al’s track is one of the best commentaries produced on any DVD we own.  He has guest commentators, an MST3K style shadow show (also seen on the Ghostbusters commentary,) and more facts and trivia than you can shake a stick at.  It’s a rare commentary where narry a second is wasted, there’s something pertinent to be said about every scene.  The only commentary that comes close is “Commentary: The Musical” which doesn’t qualify for this blog since Dr. Horrible is not a feature film and we are not reviewing mini-series or web episodes.

I would probably watch U-62 if it was a real television station.  It looks so chaotic and cool.

March 18, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments