See? After reading that headline, you're probably already geared up to kill me—especially if you're a fan of the brilliant, cult TV classic Strangers with Candy. For those just joining us, Strangers was a wickedly funny show that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons. It featured the talents of David Sedaris' funnier sister, Amy, as ex-crack whore Jerri Blank who returns after a stint in prison to finish high school. A clear parody of the ABC After-School Specials, Strangers put a hilarious spin on such heavy teen issues as drug abuse, body image, and mental retardation.
Though barely watched by mainstream America, Strangers was an absolute hit on the fringe, with pickle-jar tight direction, and an average of three laugh-out-loud jokes per minute. Which makes it really uncomfortable for me to relay the news that the Strangers with Candy movie... well... kind of sucks. DON'T KILL ME.
For those diehards who will undoubtedly waste their money on the movie, rather than buying the awesome series on DVD, the plot: Strangers is a prequel, picking up when "the former user, boozer, and loser" is let out of prison. Upon returning home, Jerri discovers her mother is dead, her father is in a coma, and she has a new step-mom and half-brother. In order to awaken her comatose pop, Jerri vows to return to high school and make a success out of herself—with an award-winning science project. But even after elbowing her way onto teacher Chuck Noblet's (Stephen Colbert) science team, she's vexed by the opposing team's coach, Dr. Beekman (Matthew Broderick), cruel classmates, and myriad teenage temptations, including her best friend's sweet ass.
And here's why it doesn't work: While every person involved in creating the show is also behind the scenes, the jump from video to film is flat and disconcerting. It no longer looks like an "After-School Special," and the 90-minute running time throws off the lightning pace of the series. Instead of three jokes per minute, we receive five winners in all—sure, that's five more than Big Momma's House 2, but brilliant people should be held to higher standards. While it may be worth watching for die-hard fans, newbies will undoubtedly look at Strangers with Candy and wonder, "This is what all the fuss was about?"
For more theories on why the movie doesn't work, check out the Mercury's interview with Amy Sedaris, pg. 11.