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Strangers With Candy

"Strangers With Candy" was a short-lived series on Comedy Central which ran from 1999 to 2000. All I can recall of the series is occasionally trying to watch an episode but it failing to engage my interest. Strangers with Candy, the movie, came out 5 years after the series tanked and serves as a prequel. I was surprised to find out that the series was critically acclaimed - I was hoping the movie would show me what I missed. Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) ran away as a teenager, and after a life of crime and prison winds up back home only to find a strange woman (Deborah Rush) at her parents' house. After some catty sniping at one another Jerri is horrified to discover the woman is her step-mom as her mother died years ago as a direct result of her leaving. Worse, her dad (Dan Hedaya) is in a coma and that's presumably Jerri's fault too. She becomes convinced the only way to save her daddy is to start up her life right where she left off so she enrolls back into high school. Did I mention Jerri is 46 years old?

I chewed and chewed on coming up with an opinion about this movie. It all boils down to this: it's not my cup of tea. Most of the humor is derived from both the struggle Jerri has being 46 and trying to fit into high school as well as her ex-con persona showing through her feeble attempts to behave like a high school student. I found it all shallow and cynical and liked nothing about any of the characters. I found none of it funny at all (except maybe when Jerri brutally attacks her half-brother, who is a school bully, several times).

One of the bewildering highlights of Strangers with Candy is the appearance of some rather large-name actors such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mathew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ian Holm. Actually their appearances added nothing to the movie for me (except for a chance to say "hey, what the heck is he doing in this movie?"). Stephen Colbert has a part as a closeted gay teacher (he also co-wrote). I have never seen "The Colbert Report" and nothing I saw here makes me want to start. Oddly, I really think Amy Sedaris is quite good as Jerri but everyone else (except Dan Hedaya, and he was in a coma) gave me a headache. If I was scratching my head trying to come up with something to say about the movie, I am at a total loss over the DVD itself. The highlight of the extras is the commentary featuring Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, and co-writer Paul Dinello. I didn't find it funny or interesting. I really have no idea what else to mention except maybe some of the previews on the disc: The Aristocrats is basically the same joke told many times - and the joke is awful and not funny, if it's the same one I have heard. Then there's The Parody of the Penguins (as told by Samuel Jackson) which is a parody of March of the Penguins and the clip I saw featured some voiceovers of cute little penguins saying filthy things. Not my cup of tea.

In closing, I have to reiterate my review in a nutshell: NOT MY CUP OF TEA. If you like Stephen Colbert's brand of humor, or liked the TV show, perhaps you will appreciate Strangers with Candy. I just wish I could have those 97 minutes back.