© 2005 Comedy Central Films

Strangers With Candy (2005)

TV shows based on movies, movies based on TV shows. It all seems like a bad idea to me. I rarely watch TV, and the last series I watched religiously from start to finish ended almost 10 years ago. That show was “Strangers with Candy,” a parody of the after school specials of the ‘70s and ‘80s, which still makes me laugh no matter how many times I have seen the old episodes. The show was pulled on Comedy Central after three season despite its cult following, and four years later, the writers/cast reunited for a prequel movie, expanding on the back story of a 46-year-old ex junky who is released from prison and decides to pick up her life exactly where she left off, by going back to high school. Again, the whole enterprise sounds like a bad idea, but since I loved the show so much, I had to get around to watching this sooner or later.

Because Amy Sedaris, who plays the ex-junkie prostitute Jerri Blank, is so well-loved in show biz, Sedaris fan David Letterman signed on as executive producer, NYC pals Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker take small roles, and fashion designer Todd Oldham appears as an extra.  Even Sir Ian Holm and Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman turn up in a small roles. The fact that Stephen Colbert, who got his start with the TV show and its predecessor “Exit 57” had turned into a media superstar in the years since the show ended probably helped as well.

A few of the situations, and many of the lines of dialogue, are lifted directly from the TV show, and there are many references to the show, making this something that could really only be enjoyed by someone who had seen the entire run of the show. At the same time, it recycles material that most of its viewers would have seen anyway. At least it succeeds in giving cult audience a little more of a show that ended too earlier, and the scene of Jerri freaking out and smashing up a suburban home after a single puff on a joint makes this worthwhile.

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