'Strangers with Candy'


"Strangers with Candy" is the long-deferred film adaptation of the Comedy Central series that starred Amy Sedaris in her wacko Jerri Blank role. It's a sort of Rolodex film, with Sedaris calling on the likes of Matthew Broderick, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Janney and a corps of other pros to shore up this vehicle alongside her Comedy Central colleagues Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello. The latter directed this outing in which half the fun comes from high school kids being oblivious to the obvious differences between Jerri and them.

How you react depends largely on your appetite for Jerri -- a 46-year-old shopworn ex-con and ex-junkie pretending the last 30 years of her life didn't happen, as she re-enters high school to rehab her life and maybe bring her dad out of a longtime coma. Sedaris is so tightly wound, so intent on selling Jerri at feature length, that she and the film grow a little wearing, especially when the film threatens to get plot-heavy as Jerri's need for love, acceptance and sex ties her into a science fair competition.

Still, her off-the-wall appeal never quite goes down for the count. It's even invigorating in its desperate way. The rudeness, raunchiness and clever verbal nimbleness in the writing help keep it going. Because it takes wilder swings than most films, and connects from time to time, it's worth giving it a shot. It's no worse than Steve Martin's "The Jerk" and miles better than "Napoleon Dynamite."

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