Strangers With Candy review
on Ebert & Roeper

July 1, 2006

   

Roeper and Ebert each gave Strangers With Candy enthusiastic "thumbs up"

RICHARD ROEPER: And now I have something a little different, my friend. It's the dark, weird, goofy, and really, really funny Strangers With Candy. When this movie made me laugh, it made me laugh hard. It's just so bizarre and so cheerfully warped, I couldn't resist it.

In a prequel to the popular Comedy Central series, Amy Sedaris stars as Jerri Blank, a 47-year-old, scruncy faced, ex-con junkie whore whose entire life has been an ugly disaster. Fresh (or not-so-fresh) out of prison, she returns home and she decides she'll enroll in high school and this time she's gonna get it right [clip where Jerri introduces herself to Noblet's class].

Sedaris wrote the brilliantly twisted screenplay along with director Paul Dinello and co-star Stephen Colbert, who gives maybe the year's funniest supporting performance as an insanely self-absorbed teacher [clip where Noblet breaks up with Jellineck].

Sedaris, Dinello, and Colbert first worked together at Chicago's Second City, and they belong in the same league as that improv theater's long line of comedic giants [clip where Jerri tells Tammi and Megawatti the rules of being on a team].

Strangers With Candy has a bare-bones plot about the students trying to win some science fair, but that's really just window dressing for a series of hilarious skits that play like an After School Special as produced by a prison theater group. The teachers and administrators are insanely inept and corrupt, while the students are parodies from the John Hughes high school yearbook, it all works because of the whip-smart dialogue and the great performances. So, big thumbs up.

ROGER EBERT: Thumbs up for me, too. You know, when you get right down to it, over the last forty years Second City has produced hundreds of famous comedians in this country. Here are three more. And Amy Sedaris creates this character with such urgency and such passion, and she's so into her at all times, and so completely, like, you know, don't get anywhere near this person, that I just look at her with a kind of fascination.

ROEPER: She sells the heck out of this performance, and everybody plays it in their own weird way. They play it realistically, which just makes it that much funnier.

© July 1, 2006 Ebert & Roeper