Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) is 47-years old, an ex-con, ex-junky and ex-whore who decides, 32 years after running away, to go back home. When she learns that her father (Dan Hedaya) went into a coma when she left oh so long ago, she figures that turning her life around will revive her unconscious dad. The first decision on her road to redemption is to go back to high school but it isn’t going to be as easy as she thought in “Strangers with Candy.”
Sedaris and her co-writers and co-stars, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello, brought their oddball characters to life on the small screen, from 1999 to 2000, with the Comedy Central sitcom, “Strangers with Candy.” There must have been a sizable fan-base for the show to warrant bringing it back in feature-length film form and the result is the prequel where its star, against the advice of beat poet Jack Kerouak, goes home again.
After watching “Stranger with Candy,” the movie, I have to agree with Kerouak: you really can’t go home again. Jerri has lived a hard life since she ran away over three decades ago. Now, out of prison, off drugs and forgoing her old whoring ways, she wants to make her life right and, she is sure, bring her father back to the land of the living. She enrolls as a freshman at Flatpoint High School and, when she learns that there is a fast-approaching science fair, decides that she can really shine when, she is sure, she wins the contest.
But, even for a street-smart middle-aged ex-con, high school is fraught with a whole new set of problems for Jerri. Foremost on the list is science teacher Charles Noblet (Stephen Colbert), a self-centered egotist who is more concerned with his own career than he is in helping his students, especially Jerri. This fish out of water must also face the competitive nature of her fellow students who think that Jerri is a weirdo. Ms. Blank faces an uphill battle as she struggles to make friends and come up with an idea that will ensure her big win at the science fair.
I suppose that the silly, sometimes raunchy, humor of Strangers with Candy” has its proponents but I’m not one of them. Jerri Blank is a child in an adult body and the adolescent brand of humor Sedaris and company come up with may have some appeal, though I think it will be only for those of a like mind. For anyone over the age of, say, 15-years old, you might feel the way I did when I left the theater after seeing Strangers.” I lost an hour and a half from my life that I’ll never get back again.
The humor that makes up “Strangers with Candy” ranges from juvenile to gross out. This may draw those who like juvenile and gross comedy. But, for a reasonably intelligent person, I suggest you look elsewhere for a film to tickle the funny bone. This one, for me, failed to give that tickle miserably. This is a shame considering the talented cast supporting Sedaris and Colbert. One would think that such notables as Allison Janney, Dan Hedaya, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Ian Holm and Sarah Jessica Parker would make this a sure thing for comic satisfaction. Instead, these talented people are left high and dry by the borderline moronic script by Sedaris, Colbert and Dinello that failed to make me laugh or even smile, a bad thing for what is supposed to be a screwball comedy.
I don’t know. Is it too much to expect a comedy movie to make me chuckle, even once? Summer movie going has some solid comedies, like “Little Miss Sunshine,” to let you beat the heat. But I would rather be abandoned in the fiery warmth of Death Valley than be subjected to “Strangers with Candy” again, even in an air-conditioned theater! I give it a D.Laura:
Laura did not see this film.
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