Hi, all. Sorry it has been a hot minute since I wrote one of these, but, back in the swing of things, I have one that popped in my head to get on people’s radar. There is a new Weird Al Yankovic movie that came out in September. It stars Harry Potter as Weird Al, and from what I have heard it is great. Don’t know how I missed it but I will be viewing it soon for sure. But it got me thinking, did anyone see his 1989 masterpiece…
Weird Al plays a down-on-his-luck guy, George Newman, who cannot hold down a job no matter what he does. He is followed around by his best pal Bob, played by David Bowe. Somehow after losing another job, George’s aunt tells his Uncle Harvey to have George run the TV channel Harvey won in a poker game. Since it is nothing important the uncle does and that starts an absolute insane chain of events. George and Bob now run a TV channel, and need to figure out a way to make money since it is losing a ton, and pretty much only has enough to run through the week. They make themselves a daytime children’s show called Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse, and it just is not good. On top of that, George misses a date with his girlfriend Teri, played by the amazing Victoria Jackson, and she breaks up with him. I am skipping some details but they decide (after essentially giving up and losing another job) to give the show to the janitor, Stanley. He is played by Michael Richards and this is the year he gets Kramer on Seinfeld. Let’s just say that within five minutes of Stanley hitting the tv screen/audience the fortunes of George and Channel 62 change. I won’t ruin any more, but it is a fun comedy with tons of parody of 1989 pop culture, the kind that only Weird Al can do.
Let’s talk about the crew in charge of this movie. This film was directed by Jay Levey, and that name means nothing to you. That just happens to be Weird Al’s manager for 30+ years. The screenplay is written by both of them and it is just spectacular. Considering this follows their normal partnership of creating and producing music videos for all of Weird Al’s music, this is just a long 90+ minute Music Video. It even has complete movie parodies tied into the flow of the film. Just an absolute masterpiece.
Okay, the cast. I mention Weird Al, I mention Michael Richards, I mention Victoria Jackson. But back to David Bowe. He was the second choice to originally play George’s best friend. The first was Jerry Seinfeld, who Al knew from the comedy standup scene. I guess with Seinfeld about the be on TV, him passing on this role worked out in his favor. But like Jerry and Michael Richards, Al leaned into the comedy clubs to fill out a few more roles. The Channel 62 secretary, and soon to be news reporter is played by the wonderful Fran Drescher, years after Saturday Night Fever and a few before her run on The Nanny. Another random role is played by the amazing comedian Emo Phillips. Actually not very random, I believe I read Al wrote the role specifically for him. Okay, a few more roles. The big bad is played by Kevin McCarthy, who is an acting legend, nominated for an Academy award for Death of a Salesman in 1951. The aunt I spoke about earlier is played by Sue Anne Langdon, who I only know as the third actress to play Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners (Jeopardy Question I remembered from years ago). And to round out the insane cast, Anthony Geary plays Philo. Geary was a daytime soap opera actor, and loved Al, so wanted to do something completely out of character. This is 100% that. The funny part is that role was written for Al’s friend, Joel Hodgson, but he declined. He was not sure he would be a good for the role, and he was already starting his work on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Okay, last three, I swear. The Channel 62 camera man Noodles Macintosh is played by the icon Billy Barty. One of the friends of George in the movie is Kung Fu Teacher Kuni, played by the timeless Gedde Watanabe. Depending your taste in movies, you know him as Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles or Oishi from Ron Howard’s Gung Ho. And David Proval is a random goon. I mean the cast is insane.
Sorry that was a lot about the cast, but this movie has one element that I always need in order to be rewatchable for me. It has a ton of insanely funny quotes. As with most of my other reviews, I use most of these in my normal day-to-day, and I have a wife and two young daughters that look at me like I am losing it. Maybe I am, but here are a few gems:
- Lesbian Nazi hookers abducted by UFOs and forced into weight-loss programs, all this week on Town Talk!
- Look up! Look down! Now look at Mr. Frying Pan! Uh-oh. Bobbo fall down go boom.
- Oh, Joel Miller, you just found the marble in the oatmeal!
- You get to drink from…THE FIRE HOSE!!!
- Can you believe this?! Would you look at that! Just call me “Mr. Butterfingers“!
- You took the box! Let’s see what’s in the box! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! STUPID! You so STU-PIIIIIIIIIIID!
- Don’t you know the Dewey Decimal System?!
Let’s just say the amount of quotes in this film are just insane. As a kid who grew up with Weird Al parodying every popular song I recall hearing on the radio, this flick is an amazing comedy that holds up all these years later. As always Apple TV has this for rent for the normal four smackers, and like my previous recommends, this is a surefire win. One last nugget: Sylvester Stallone was going to make a cameo in this flick in a sequence parodying Rambo, but declined. I think Weird Al’s homage to him is better.