Strangers With Candy

Rating 3½

Directed by Paul Dinello

Written by Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello

Starring Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Elisabeth Harnois, Chris Pratt, Gregory Hollimon, Maria Thayer, Carlo Alban, Dan Hedaya, Joseph Cross, Deborah Rush, Ian Holm and Sarah Jessica Parker

Jerri Blank (Amy Sederis), a 46-year-old drug addict and former prostitute, is released from prison and determines to go back to high school to make up for her lost years, hoping it will stir her father from his 32 year coma. She is befriended by science nerds Tammi (Maria Thayer) and Megawatti (Carlo Alban), but has a nemesis in form of Alpha girl Monica (Elisabeth Harnois). The story plays out against the backdrop of the upcoming Science Fair, which the incompetent and dishonest Principal Blackman (Gregory Hollimon) is determined his school will win, recruiting a ringer, science “genius” Roger Beekman (Matthew Broderick), to ensure it happens.

This bizarre, offbeat comedy started life as a television series on the Comedy Central network, running for three seasons between April 1999 and October 2000. The film version, which had a production budget of just $2 million, premiered at the Sundance Festival in June 2006. It received mixed reviews and has a 52% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

I was sitting on the fence for the first 10 or 15 minutes, not quite sure what to make of it, but once I was settled into the weird world of Flatpoint High School I found myself constantly laughing out loud. The humour is a bit scatter-shot and not all of it works, but the good stuff outweighs the bits that fall flat. It puts me in mind of a very silly, off-kilter version of ‘Mean Girls’ or ‘Election’. The television series ‘Square Pegs’ also comes to mind.

It certainly won’t be to all tastes, but if you find it funny, you are likely to find it very funny.

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