Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘UHF – Welcome to Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse’
UHF is every bit a reflection of its co-writer “Weird Al” Yankovic. It’s an eccentric and peculiar film, driven by the scattershot musings of Yankovic’s mind. Like his music, none of it is meant to be taken seriously. It is an amalgamation of goofy satire—some great, some not so—that’s best served for repeat viewings. But again, like his music, its appeal is limited to a certain audience.
Which begs the question: Why release a film like this in the heart of the summer movie season? Surrounded by massive box office hits of 1989 like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, and Ghostbusters II, it was doomed to fail. And fail it did. On a budget of $5 million, it grossed just $6.1 million.
Certainly low risk, but the reward wasn’t much better. The studio had banked on it being otherwise. After positive test screenings—Orion’s best since Robocop—they were sure they had a hit on their hands. To be fair, UHF is unique in comparison to those other offerings. And it even pokes fun at their self-seriousness. It just lacks the massive scale of most summer fare, no doubt causing it to become lost in the shuffle.
Despite its underperformance, it is an amazing showcase for Michael Richards, who would become one of the great comedic actors of the 1990s with his portrayal of Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. The fingerprints of what would be hallmarks of that character—in particular the physical comedy—are all over this movie. As Stanley Spadowski—the inadvertent hero of Channel 62—Richards steals the show, outpacing his co-stars with a spastic performance for the ages.
Truly, for any fan of Seinfeld, it is one that must be seen. So sit back, pour yourself a Tangerine Express IPA from Stone Brewing, and get ready to drink from the fire hose. I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), and Chumpzilla are taking a trip Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction – From Raul’s Wild Kingdom to Spatula City, we discuss all of Uncle Nutsy‘s bonkers ideas. (00:00)
- Interesting Facts, and the “Wheel of Fish” Trivia Challenge – Chumpzilla provides some lesser known tidbits about the film, and then, in a reversal of roles, he tasks me with some UHF trivia. (27:40)
- Recommendations – We offer our picks for the week and next up: We set a course for Cutthroat Island! (53:10)