STRANGERS WITH CANDY For its first two seasons, the cable series Strangers With Candy
was never less than good, and was often quite brilliant. A wicked
parody of after-school specials and ’70s movies of the week, with their
fear-mongering teen cautionary tales, the series managed to be both
anti-PC and intrinsically progressive, a send-up of and valentine to
racial and sexual outsiders, with a former (and pretty much still)
ambisexual junkie whore as its heroine. But by season three, it was
running on fumes. The big-screen adaptation, sadly, is more third
season than seasons one or two. The film is the prequel to the series,
showing how 48-year-old Jeri Blank (Amy Sedaris), after more than 30
years of tricking and tripping, returns home to pick up exactly where
she left off, including returning to high school. Finding her beloved
father in a coma, she decides that winning the school science fair will
be the miracle that revives him. The film is never really more than a
series of loosely connected riffs and set pieces. That’d be fine except
much of it is slack and airless; the laughs are many but they’re too
spread out — a far cry from the series’ heyday of taut, rapid-fire
lunacy. Still, it’s worth catching the film just for Sedaris’
performance. Surrounded and sparked by all the show’s familiar
characters (most played by the wonderful TV cast), she’s a marvel of
inspired grotesqueness. (NuWilshire; Playhouse 7; Sunset 5; Town Center 5) (Ernest Hardy)

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