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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.57%
Worth A Look: 8.57%
Pretty Bad: 20%
Total Crap: 20%

4 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Strangers With Candy
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by Elaine Perrone

"A perfectly good example of why you shouldn't accept candy from strangers."
2 stars

SCREENED AT SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2006. Playing like an excruciatingly overlong Saturday Night Live skit, and squandering the considerable talents of an impressive cast, Strangers with Candy is decidedly Not Ready for Prime Time.

The brainchild of Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Dinello, Strangers with Candy is billed as a prequel to the Comedy Central TV series of the same name. Having never seen the series I can only speculate, but, in 30 minute increments, its premise – the exploits of a 47-year-old ex-con junkie whore with lesbian tendencies who decides to turn her life around by returning to high school – sounds just dandy. As a feature-length film, it is an exercise in tedium that garners few laughs, overstaying its welcome for at least 67 of its 97 minute running time and testing the patience of even its most diehard fans.

The set-up, which takes, not coincidentally, about thirty minutes, is just swell: Jerri Blank (Sedaris), newly released from prison, returns to her family home after 32 years of being either on the street or in jail, to find her father in a coma and her stepmother (Deborah Rush) running the household along with her idiot son and her boyfriend, “Stew, the Meatman.” It seems that her daddy (Dan Hedaya) lapsed into unconsciousness when Jerri first ran away from home at age seventeen, remaining comatose for the entire time she was away. Convinced that she can bring her father around by erasing her years of debauchery, Jerri re-enrolls as a freshman at Flatpoint High School under the helm of principal Onyx Blackman (Greg Hollimon) and the auspices of science teacher Chuck Noblet (Colbert), a married, bisexual born-again Christian, and his secret lover Geoffrey Jellineck (Dinello), the art teacher. (Sedaris, Colbert, Dinello, and Hollimon all reprise their television roles here; Dinello also directs.)

It’s when the plot kicks in – centering on an unscrupulous science fair competition between Noblet’s team and one headed by a ringer science teacher (Matthew Broderick) brought in by the principal – that the fun pretty much comes to a screeching halt.

Sophomoric (pun fully intended) plotting aside, what laughs there are to be had come from the wordplay – although Sedaris and Colbert seem to have given themselves most of the best lines. Greeting a classmate with beautiful flaming red hair, who she also refers to as “Copper Top,” Jerri asks her if “the carpet match[es] the drapes.” Breaking up with Geoffrey, Noblet justifies the split by telling him, “I need more out of this relationship than I’m willing to put in. I think I deserve better than that, don’t you?”

There’s fun to be had, too, in many of the characters’ names – among them Sarah Jessica Parker’s insensitive grief counselor Peggy Callas (callous, get it?); Justin Theroux’s Mr. Carlo Honklin, the drivers ed teacher; Coach Muffy Divers (Kristen Johnston), the butch, wheelchair-bound girls’ P.E. teacher; and Principal Blackman (yes, Greg Hollimon is an onyx black man).

Beyond that, it is a complete puzzlement why the likes of Ian Holm, Allison Janney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chandra Wilson, and the aforementioned Hedaya, Broderick, and Parker would be slumming around this schoolyard.

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originally posted: 06/17/06 13:15:32
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
TV to Screen: For more in the TV to Screen series, click here.

User Comments

4/12/08 John Millheim It was alot better than I thought it would be. had some decent comedy 4 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Not nearly as good as the show. Colbert provides most of few laughs. 2 stars
12/08/06 Susan Striaght I loved this movie-Amy Sedaris rocks!! You are crazy! 5 stars
8/08/06 21spaceboy Great movie, though only fans of the show will truly appreciate it 5 stars
7/31/06 Davina Loughed out loud many times. Not as good as show though. 5 stars
7/25/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble A brilliant tv show, ahead of its time. 4 stars
7/08/06 Gerry Irons Better than the show 3 stars
6/28/06 Ken Patrick It didn't suck quite as much as the TV show. 1 stars
6/20/06 Blackbrain An Afterschool Special from Hell. Funny from beginning to end. 4 stars
4/15/05 Raymond Montoya crazy people make crazy things 3 stars
1/26/05 PolkaBoy Starts with a bang, but peters out to a boring finish. 3 stars
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  28-Jun-2006 (R)
  DVD: 14-Nov-2006



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