When Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert's grotesquely hilarious Afterschool Special parody went off the air after a memorable three-season run back in 2000, many fans of the fearlessly irreverent Comedy Central series worried that they had seen the last of snaggletoothed, fortysomething ex-junkie prostitute Jerri Blank. Five years later, the self-confessed "boozer, user, and loser" is back, and ready to take on high-school life once again in a feature-film version of the series that essentially starts from scratch to tell just how Flatpoint High's strangest student tried to pick her life up exactly where she left off 32 years ago. Though the big-screen incarnation of the alternately unsettling and hilarious series does manage to successfully capture the off-kilter tone of its small screen counterpart, there's something decidedly restrained about the proceedings that shackles the film from ever reaching the truly manic heights of the product from which it spawned. Seemingly faced with the daunting challenge of delivering the goods to die-hard Concrete Donkey fans while simultaneously converting the uninitiated, writers Sedaris, Dinello, and Colbert skillfully retain many of the best elements of the show by bringing along a majority of the most memorable characters (though sometimes portrayed by different actors) and cleverly recycling a few of the most memorable jokes. Despite an R rating that likely had many fans salivating at the thought of just how far the feature version might be willing to go in upping the ante of the show in which rampant drug use, repulsive genital piercings, and lewd, decidedly un-PC dialogue was fairly standard, the feature film version of Strangers With Candy surprisingly comes off as a somewhat watered-down version of the original series. Of course, that's not to say that longtime fans won't find the film as entertaining as the series -- it's about as consistently funny as the average episode -- just that it doesn't seem particularly interested in breaking any new ground. While some may view this as a drawback considering the time that has passed between the series and the feature, fans who simply wanted to spend a little more time in the hallowed halls of Flatpoint High will likely welcome the opportunity to see Dinello, Colbert, and Sedaris have a blast as they bring their bizarre antics to the big screen.
by Jason Buchanan review