Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Shout Factory - UHF (25th Anniversary Edition) on Blu-ray & THE COMPLEAT AL on DVD ""

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shout Factory - UHF (25th Anniversary Edition) on Blu-ray & THE COMPLEAT AL on DVD

UHF (1989; Jay Levey)
I consider Weird Al to be a pretty seminal influence in my life. I must have first heard him when I was about 12 or so and it was a time when I wasn't yet into music at all really. I remember that the friends of a good friend of mine had one of his tapes and they were playing it in the car while drove to the movies or somewhere. If I'm remembering correctly, "Addicted to Spuds" was one of the first songs of his that really grabbed me. What I had no idea about at the time was that I was partially responding to Robert Palmers melody to "Addicted to Love". I had no clue about the songs that Al was parodying, but I love the music AND his comedic lyrical stylings. It was a revelatory moment for me when I realized that a song could be a joke at the same time. That if you weren't paying attention to the lyrics you might just think they were snappy pop tunes and not silly at all. It was Weird Al that taught me to pay attention to song lyrics and as a result, music in general. I still credit him for getting me into music to this day. He was also a guy who taught me not to take life too seriously. Here was a man who was making his living making clever silly songs. His songs were about television and junk food and lots of other stuff I was into at that age. I just loved that idea. Not that I could ever do it myself, but clearly Al was a dude who had a good outlook and a wacky sense of humor. I still kind of think of people in terms of what kind of sense of humor they have. I tend to struggle with people who take everything too seriously and can't laugh at themselves. Not sure if it was Weird Al who taught me that, but I know that some of that sensibility started from me hearing him for the first time. 
By the time UHF came out, I was fully entrenched in Weird Al. I had bought all of his albums to that point and listened to them on an endless loop whenever I we took long road trips or if I got stuck mowing the yard and so forth. I listened those cassettes into the ground. And when I heard UHF was coming out, I got the "soundtrack" as soon as I could and dug into that. When I saw UHF in the theater, it truly spoke to me. It was funny in all the ways I hoped it would be and was my favorite thing in the world at the time I saw it. It did not disappoint. I had been so curious to see what a "Weird Al Movie" would look like and it met and exceeded my expectations. All the dopey humor and nutty movie parody stuff was perfectly in my wheelhouse. I was of course about fifteen years old at the time so I wasn't necessarily looking for academy award winning films at that point. UHF though represented something that I felt some stake of ownership in. I felt like a true Al fan and that this was a film made for me and people like me. Weird Al is just that kind of polarizing persona. He really impacted (and continues to impact) so many people in the same way he did for me all those years ago. I find it so neat that he has stayed relevant for so long and his popularity doesn't seem to be waning much these days. Just like Monty Python, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and other geeky comedy stuff, Weird Al is the the kind of thing that gets passed down from parent to child and on and on. I feel like a lot of people show a lot of passion for a lot of things these days and I'm all for this kind of love. That said, there's a big difference between getting excited about the latest Marvel movie and the deep adoration that one feels for the things that they see as having shaped their personalities (and in turn their kids' personalities). There's something truly special about that and I can't thank Shout Factory enough for putting UHF out into the world again. Sure, it won't connect with a lot of younger people, but there will be groups of kids who will see it now for the first time and it will become their new favorite thing (at least for a while).

Special Features:
-"The Wonderful World of Weird Al" (51 mins) This Q&A was recorded at Comic Con Dan Diego earlier this year and was moderated by comedian Jonah Ray. It's a decent interview followed by questions from the crowd on hand. Jonah Ray is clearly a bit nervous, so he fumbles a bit to keep the conversation on track and the fans who are asking questions always seem to need to preface their questions long- winded effusive praise, but hey I get it. I mean it's Weird Al after all. I'd probably lose the power of speech myself if I ever met him. Anyway, it's an enjoyable watch  and a new supplement that obviously wasn't included in the previous DVD release.
Other features (ported from the MGM DVD) include:
-A great Audio Commentary from Weird Al and Director/Co-writer Jay Levey.
-Deleted Scenes.
-A vintage "making-of" featurette.

Here's my favorite fake commercial from UHF - for "Spatula City":

Bonus: Weird Al reflects on UHF:

THE COMPLEAT AL (1985; Jay Levey/ Robert K. Weiss)
"The Amazing and Almost-True Life Story of a Rock and Roll Legend"
This is one of those releases that shows how much the folks at Shout! Factory love Weird Al as much as the rest of us. This faux-documentary had never gotten a release beyond VHS circa 1985 so it had basically dropped out of sight for a good long while. I myself hadn't even seen it until a year or two ago (somehow, amidst my Weird Al frenzy phase, I must have missed it ever coming out). One of the things that reminded me of its existence was this "VHS Gems" list by regular Rupert Pupkins Speaks contributor Kevin Clarke:
Soon after that, THE COMPLEAT AL got a mention on a neat little web series called "The Vulcan Vault" wherein employees at the Vulcan Video store in Austin Texas gave recommendations for some of their under-appreciated favorites:

This a truly wonderful little DVD for Al fans to finally own. It is basically a jokey take on something like THE COMPLEAT BEATLES (which was an epic two-hour doc on the career of the Fab Four and where Al appropriated his title from). THE COMPLEAT AL premiered on Showtime in 1985 and included lots of stuff about Al's real life as well as spoofy stuff, excerpt's from "Al TV" and all of his music videos up to 1985. While it isn't as sharp as UHF, you can certainly see Al and director Jay Levey working out some comedic ideas and themes that they would carry on to great success in their feature (which they apparently worked on for a really long time). It's a wonderful companion piece to the new UHF Blu-ray and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Weird Al's old music videos. Old music videos are pretty fun for the most part, but Al's are something else altogether.
Here are a couple clips:

Both the UHF Blu-ray and THE COMPLEAT AL DVD can be purchased via Shout! Factory's website and are due out on November 11th:

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