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Paul Dinello
Amy Sedaris, Greg Hollimon, Paul Dinello, Deborah Rush, Stephen Colbert, Dan Hedaya, Allison Janney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kristen Johnston
Writing Credits:
Mitch Rouse (series, "Strangers with Candy"), Stephen Colbert (also series), Paul Dinello (also series), Amy Sedaris (also series)

Going to high school for the first time is always scary ... Especially the second time around.

The acclaimed and hilarious Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy gets the cinematic treatment in this feature-length prequel to the show. Here we see ex-junkie Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) being released from prison, rejoining her father - who has been in a coma since her imprisonment - and entering high school in order get a fresh start in life. The film features many interesting cameos.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$43.141 thousand on 2 screens.
Domestic Gross
$2.068 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/14/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Actor Paul Dinello, Actor/Writer Amy Sedaris and Actor/Writer Stephen Colbert
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Strangers With Candy (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 2, 2006)

A cult comedy show turns into a cult movie with 2006’s Strangers with Candy. Based on the Comedy Central series of the same name, Candy introduces us to Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris), an ex-con who tries to return home after 32 years. She finds out that her mother died and her father (Dan Hedaya) entered a coma due to his grief. Jerri’s presence stimulates her father’s first response of any form in decades, so the doctor (Ian Holm) believes that if she can remind her dad of the days before she departed and broke his heart, he may come out of his coma.

This sets Jerri’s wheels in motion. She decides to return to her life as it was before she left, which means she’ll go back to high school. She starts to get to know her stepmother Sara (Deborah Rush) and teen stepbrother Derrick (Joseph Cross) while she attempts to adjust to life as a 46-year-old high school freshman. The flick follows her work there along with a number of subplots related to other students and staff at the school.

If you look up the definition of a “hit or miss” comedy, you’ll find Candy listed there. The flick mixes genuinely amusing and clever bits with tedious moments to create a decidedly erratic film. When the flick concentrates on Jerri, it succeeds. Sedaris’s performance embraces over the top mannerisms and tics, but it works anyway. Her quirky elements become the funniest aspects of the movie.

Candy comes with a funny concept, and that also contributes to its sporadic success. The idea of the 46-year-old high school freshman comes rife with comedic opportunities, especially given Jerri’s checkered past. The flick occasionally manages to embrace the possibilities and form good comedy.

Unfortunately, Candy loses focuses too often. It casts a broad net and becomes less engaging when it goes away from Jerri. That’s especially true when it indulges in the gay love triangle among the teachers. Those segments feel gratuitous and never coalesce into good material.

I also think Candy throws out too many cameos. We find bits from Ian Holm, Allison Janney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. All of the actors do just fine in their parts, and Parker scores particularly well in her turn as a cynical counselor. However, I find the use of the stars to turn into a distraction, as they tend to take us out of the story. We spend too much time focused on who we’ll meet next and not enough on the action at hand.

Strangers with Candy amuses some of the time, and it offers reasonable entertainment. However, it ends up as something of a disappointment because it doesn’t live up to its potential. The flick’s high points means that its weaker parts stand out as even more prominent.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus C

Strangers with Candy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Like the movie itself, the transfer mixed good and bad.

Sharpness generally seemed satisfactory, but more than a few exceptions occurred. In particular, interiors tended to appear a bit muddy and soft. Much of the film offered pretty good detail, but too many fuzzy segments appeared. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but some moderate edge haloes could be seen at times. Source flaws were minor but showed up periodically. I noticed a little more grain than expected, and a few specks also popped up along the way.

Colors usually appeared decent. Occasionally the hues came across as a bit runny and messy, but they usually manifested acceptable definition and clarity. Blacks were passable, while shadows tended to be somewhat thick. Low-light shots remained watchable despite some blandness. This was a perfectly average transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Strangers with Candy. Not surprisingly, the mix usually presented a modest soundfield. Much of the material concentrated on the front center, while some environmental elements popped up from the sides and rears. These usually stayed with general ambience and minor panning.

Unfortunately, the track seemed a bit too focused on the left side. This orientation wasn’t overwhelming, but I thought that the different elements de-emphasized the right too much. This made matters lop-sided and created minor distractions.

Audio quality remained mostly positive. Speech occasionally seemed somewhat hollow, but the lines lacked edginess and were consistently intelligible. Music showed decent range and definition, while effects were appropriately clear and accurate. The combination of lackluster soundfield and lop-sided orientation left the track with a “C”.

When we shift to the supplements, we discover an audio commentary from writer/actor/director Paul Dinello, writer/actor Amy Sedaris, and writer/actor Stephen Colbert. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. A very screen-specific discussion, to be truthful, as the material usually hews closely to action we see.

The participants discuss the cast, connections to the TV series, cut scenes and changes, sets and locations, and some general issues. Mostly they make remarks that connect directly to the action on-screen. Some of these offer mild insights, but many seem moderately irrelevant. They joke around a lot and praise many aspects of the project. You’ll learn a little about the flick’s creation but don’t expect much useful content.

18 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes and 31 seconds. Most of these offer extended snippets, though a few totally new pieces appear. For instance, we get a long clip in which Counselor Callas (Parker) works with a suicidal student, and we see rehearsals with Beekman’s team. Some of the pieces flop, but we get a fair amount of entertaining material here.

A Music Video from Delano Grove appears next. It accompanies the song “Atomic Car” and mostly shows us the school secretary in various shots. It’s tremendously forgettable and lacks any discernible point.

The disc opens with a few ads. We find promos for Awesome! I… Shot That, Farce of the Penguins and The Aristocrats. These also appear in a Trailer Gallery, and we find the theatrical trailer for Candy as well.

Perhaps Strangers with Candy works best for those familiar with the TV series, but as a neophyte to its ways, I thought the movie was only sporadically successful. Though it has enough funny bits to become a decent success, too many slow spots mar its progress. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio along with similarly average extras. This one might merit a rental but that’s about it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 7
0 3:
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