Back when it first aired on Comedy Central in a previous incarnation as a television series, Strangers With Candy was an interesting enough premise. Take a menopausally challenged, recently released prisoner named Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris, Elf) who decides to return home for the first time in over three decades to try and get a new start and throw her into high school. Now, not knowing how good or bad the show did, it must have had some sort of following, because there’s a movie out …ow from which said television series is inspired.
And wow, take a look at some of the people involved in this production! David Letterman is one of the executive producers of the film. And among the guest stars in the film are two Emmy Award winners (Sarah Jessica Parker for Sex and the City and Allison Janney for The West Wing) and damn, even an Oscar winner (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote). There’s even a “what the hell is THAT guy doing here?” moment when Ian Holm (The Lord of the Rings, The Sweet Hereafter) shows up for a few minutes too. And that’s not counting Sedaris and her teacher in the film (and hopefully a 2008 White House candidate), played by Stephen Colbert.
Oh, the story? Well, there’s one here. Jerri comes back home and Dad is in a coma, so she decides to go back to school and take part in a science fair that will help her school’s principal get the school accredited or something, while at the same time showing up Colbert’s rival Roger Beekman (played by Parker husband Matthew Broderick, Election).
So that’s the story for you newbies to the program (as I am one too), while the vets can go out and enjoy themselves. And as a Strangers With Candy newbie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would, the humor skewers most every age or race group, and Sedaris proves herself to be one heckuva physical comedienne, while Colbert is, well, Colbert. His rendition of a live-action Mr. Garrison of sorts is hilarious, and he steals the scene a few times.
So with one of the cast members doing a Comedy Central talk show, does Strangers With Candy (the movie) help to shoot some heroin back into the veins of a lifeless television body? Practically, I don’t think it could happen, but the movie Strangers With Candy helps the cult fans of the show gain some new members, and I think I may be one of them.
Sure, the movie is in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and there are a couple of songs that sound crystal clear, but there’s nothing remarkable or earth-shattering about the soundtrack. Everything comes from the front channels with little to no surround activity, and the dialogue is a little but soft, requiring compensation by the user. Meaning, turn it up if you want to listen to it.
1.85 anamorphic widescreen to warm the cuckolds of your heart. There’s not a lot of color to show off, and everything is reproduced accurately and without concern.
The extras were a bit of a letdown compared to the feature. Sedaris, Colbert and Paul DiNello (who directed the film and plays Colbert’s love interest Joffrey) join forces for a commentary, but it’s mostly them giggling at the footage and occasionally throwing in a production story or two, so I wasn’t really impressed by it. There are about 20 deleted and extended scenes that run for about 20 minutes, most of which are pretty quick, though there’s an early scene of Jerri’s going away that was predictable (yet kinda funny) and a “school sniper drill” that made me chuckle, but everything else was unnecessary. A video and a handful of trailers (including one for the film) complete the disc.
Special Features List
- Director/Cast Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Music Video