Strangers With Candy Paul Dinello

This is the feature-length prequel to the cult TV series, the latter of which is highly regarded in my circle. Alas, fans should be prepared for something limp and spotty instead of genuinely uproarious. Amy Sedaris reprises her role as Jerri Blank, the 46-year-old ex-addict/prostitute who gets out of prison and resolves to graduate high school; she has her work cut out for her, as the student body hates her no matter how much she lusts after some of its members. Poor Jerri initially crashes and burns but rises above it all when a) she’s taken in by a pair of nerds and b) the administration coincidentally starts promoting the science fair in a last-ditch effort to up its profile. By all rights this should be a slam-dunk, especially with Sedaris’s vigorous selling of the role that made her famous. But there seems to be such faith in the participants’ hilarity that they don’t bother to lend credence to the theory. The spectacle of Jerri acting aggressive and uncouth gets very old very fast, a matter compounded by director Paul Dinello’s lack of style and inability to time a joke. And shockingly, most of the support staff isn’t very funny — Stephen Colbert has his moments as latently gay teacher Chuck Noblet (as does Matthew Broderick as a for-hire science project coordinator) but aside from a couple of the regulars, the timid background doesn’t match the foul-mouthed foreground. Fans of the series have already cried foul about the cast and plot changes but it’s got bigger problems than that: it’s hit and miss at the best of times, with the final tally in favour of miss. (Th!nk)