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July 24, 2006 - Image 12

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-24

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 24, 2006
Cult hit still a'Stranger'
to mainstream audience

By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer
"Strangers with Candy" is one of those
"things." You either get it, or you don't.
Unfortunately, not enough people got it when
the show aired on Come-
dy Central's Wednesday
night line-up, resulting Strangers
in the cancellation of the With Candy
series after only three At the Michigan
10-episode seasons. Theater
But the show had a ThinkFilm
faithful cult following
from day one. Since its
conclusion in 2000, the die hards have been
writing letters, making websites and invit-
ing friends over for "Strangers" dinner par-
ties. The end result of their devotion is this:
a 90-minute "movie" (i.e. long episode) of
the beloved series, starring all the old "Sec-
ond City"-alum cast (plus a few cameos from
bigger names like Philip Seymour Hoffman
and Sarah Jessica Parker): The film, is an
explosion of quirky humor and unabashed
raunchiness.
Amy Sedaris (younger sister of David
Sedaris, author of "Dress Your Children in
Corduroy and Denim") plays Jerri Blank, a
self-professed "boozer, user and loser" with an
unforgettable overbite. Blank is a 46-year-old

ex-junkie who spent the last 30 years in and
out of prison. After her most recent release,
she decided to get clean and start her life anew,
right where she left off ... in high school.
The film begins with a sentimental mon-
tage about her time in the can. The discovery
of a new step-mother (and teenage step-
brother), miraculously married to her 30-
year comatose father, convinces Jerri that
she can bring daddy back to life by being the
good girl she never was in high school. Jerri
throws herself into the very competitive,
politically charged and absolutely unaca-
demic state science fair.
The film foregoes such frills as rising action
and character developement, focusing on one
thing: Jerri. No. We're not here for narrative;
we're here for the overbite.
"Strangers with Candy" works well in an
intimate theater like the Michigan. When
you find a seat with the organ grinder fad-
ing away, you can feel the excitement build-
ing. There's a palpable feeling of fellowship
in the auditorium. How many of those letter
writers are sitting around you? There are 35-
year-old guys sporting "I like the pole and
the hole" t-shirts. And you'll never see so
many people in one place talking with an
overbite.
There's something to be said about a the-
ater filled with such a force field of positive
energy - this huge crowd laughing uproari-
ously, together, the entire time-.

I

"Mean Girls 2": Lohan is replaced by a neurotic 46-year-old former junkie.

Courtesy of ThinkFilm

The film is hilarious, from the first shot of
Jerri being beaten in the shower in women's
prison, all the way to the traditional dance-
party style credits (every episode of "SWC"
ends with the characters boogying down on
the set). It's a push-the-envelope kind of
humor, relying on a mix of non-sequitors and
groin shots. But surprisingly, there's nothing
more crude or risque about the movie than
you would see on Comedy Central.
The only real criticism here is that "Strang-

ers with Candy" humor just isn't everyone's
cup of tea. A show such as "Family Guy"
might appear similar on paper, but just
doesn't match Sedaris's brilliance. As with
many of today's comedy series, there is a dis-
tinct level of camp in the mix - you're either
in or you're out. If you are one of the lucky
few, though, you will want to kiss (make that
fondle and sexually harass in the Jerri voice)
an usher at the Michigan as you dance your
way out the door.

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