Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mister Fanboy Movies Strangers With Candy Review

Mister Fanboy Movies is joined by Mister Fanboy TV today with a review of Strangers With Candy:

Mister Fanboy Movies (MFBM): Strangers With Candy is based on the short-lived (3 season) television series of the same name that appeared on Comedy Central. Before we get into the film, I'll let Mister Fanboy TV set it all up for us.

Mister Fanboy TV (MFBTV): The series followed Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris, sister to essayist David Sedaris, incidentally), a former high-school dropout, ex-prostitute, "boozer, user, and loser" who returns from an extended stint in prison to restart her life where she left off. So now when she "does all the wrong things" she "does them for the right reasons." It's kind of like an old after-school special (If you are old enough to remember those things) on acid.

The series also starred Stephen Colbert as Mr. Noblett, the History Teacher and Paul Dinello as Mr. Jellineck the Art Teacher. Characters that rounded out the cast were Principal Onyx Blackman (yes, he's black), the dykish PE teacher, the family "butcher," a few of Jerri's loser friends, and Jerri's family, including her comatose father, hateful stepmother, and vitriolic stepbrother. Jerri would embark on a whole set of adventures that ended in mayhem. For example, in the very first episode, in a bid to make friends, she makes a homemade drug and shares it with the most popular girl in school who promptly dies.

For the movie, there are a few changes. Colbert now plays the Science teacher who has embraced fundamentalism (although he still lusts after Dinello's character). The actor who played Jerri's comatose father has been replaced by Dan Hedaya (Nick Tortelli from Cheers, the dad from Clueless). Unfortunately, with this change, the running gag with the father's exaggerated expressions (although you never see him move) is lost. The actor playing her stepbrother has the same look as the actor from the series and he makes the transition just fine. Not all of Jerri's friends make the jump to the big screen either.

MFBM: Thanks. This film is a prequel of sorts to the TV show and takes us to the point where Jerri's leaving prison for home and follows her decision to attend high school again. The device through which we are all to learn about Jerri is the Regional Science Fair. Unfortunately, the film does not live up to its promise.

MFBTV: I completely agree. I would say that the biggest problem is pacing. The film lacks the frenetic nature of the TV show. Change, although not always a bad thing, is disastrous here. Things happen too slowly and the laughs that could have kept coming were somewhat disjointed.

MFBM: I agree, pacing was a big problem. But there also seemed to be many misopportunities with the script as well. For example, we are treated to a brief montage of Jerri's life in prison while she is on the bus that takes her home. I would have liked to have seen more of that, as well as some of her using, boozing, and loser lifestyle that led her to that point.

MFBTV: Exactly. There was a running gag on the TV show about her time in Tijuana with a horse, something like that ...

MFBM: ... if you could get away with something like that ...

MBFTV: True, but if you're going to go back in time and explore her motivations to go back to school, why would you skip what led her to prison in the first place?

MFBM: Again I agree. Her motivation, by the way, is to please her father and hopefully awake him from his coma -

MFBTV: -- Nice segue --

MFBM: Thanks. It's so nice to not argue when working on an joint review, unlike with Mister Fanboy Comics.

Mister Fanboy Comics: (Opening door) I heard that you tool!

MFBM: (Shutting and locking door) Go away.


MFBM: Where was I? Having said all of that, there were people cracking up in the audience, including me. But I think we were all hoping for more. As for the performances, they were good for the most part. To be sure, this is Amy's movie and she's great as Jerri. I would love to host a party where she came in character just to see what would happen. Jerri's stepmother is wonderfully evil, her friends are great, as is the principal. But then there are the cameos ...

MFBTV: Ah yes, the cameos. Let me take this one. Why? We see Ian Holm, Allison Janney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kristin Johnson, Matthew Broderick, and Sarah Jessica Parker. In some cases (Broderick, in particular) the cameos didn't work and just appeared to be vanity projects for the stars and an attempt to bring in more bucks by the filmmakers. Nevermind the fact that Broderick is something like box office poison these days. Keep in mind, that we both really wanted to enjoy this film. We really did.

MFBM: I agree. Let me make one more point about the acting. Stephen Colbert overacts in this movie, it's as simple as that. He's too big a presence in each scene for this film. However, and here's were pacing comes to play again, on the TV show where things move quickly, his overacting works just fine. Here it falls flat. As huge fans of the show it pains us not to give this a positive review.

MFBTV: The songs are very funny though. Make sure to pay attention to the lyrics!

MFBM: You're right. In summary then, we feel that diehard fans should see the movie, but you may want to wait until it's on DVD or cable. The jokes are good, but few and far between. We don't think that casual moviegoers will like it all and would be better served by picking up any of the 3 TV seasons already released on DVD. The grade we're giving it is only as high as it is because we are huge fans of the TV show and characters.

Film Grade: C


Blogger Big Daddy said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your review.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Fanboy said...

Thank you. Very few do. It's a shame as I really wanted to like it.

5:01 PM  

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