Amy Sedaris stars as a recovered junkie who returns to high school in Strangers With Candy.


Strangers With Candy

Stars: Amy Sedaris, Greg Hollimon

Director: Paul Dinello

Rating: PG

** (out of five)

The TV Series Strangers with Candy was a berserk spoof of After-School Specials that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons and showcased the remarkably specific comedic abilities of Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert.

Sedaris was the star, playing a 47-year-old reprobate named Jerri Blank who, having spent most of her adult life as a self-described junkie whore, decides to reform herself by going back to high school. But Jerri is unable to learn anything, and keeps making everything worse just by applying her demented enthusiasm to everyday situations.

It was sick, it was twisted, and it was very funny, and perfectly suited to the dynamic between Sedaris, Dinello and Colbert. (Dinello and Colbert played teachers at Flatpoint High — each living his own private soap opera, and sometimes doing cross-overs to break the tedium.)

And now there is Strangers with Candy, the movie, which serves as a prequel to the series: Jerri is released from prison, comes home to find her daddy in a coma, and resolves to put right everything she did wrong in order to wake him up, starting with going back to high school.

It’s not a terribly sensible plan, but then Jerri doesn’t do much that makes sense to people who aren’t Jerri.

The movie’s plot revolves around Jerri’s first days as a returning student, and the science fair that may or may not present an opportunity for her to make friends. It’s really just a feature-length episode of the show, and the pacing is off, with Sedaris, Dinello and Colbert’s script — and Dinello’s direction — very clearly stretching 30 or 40 good minutes out over an hour and a half.

The jokes are as sharp and funny as ever; there’s just a whole lot of space between them.