Review: Strangers With Candy
The Strangers With Candy movie is rather like a late period Rolling Stones album — it's still the same super-talented people doing exactly what you expect of them, but nothing more. The creative spark isn't totally gone, but the sort of gleeful perversity that made episodes like "The Blank Page," "Hit & Run," and "Who Wants Cake" so sublime is dulled down in even the film's best moments and occasionally lacking entirely. It's a strange thing that the troupe would actually make the film version far less filthy and weird than the original series, which was subject to FCC standards. I'm not sure whether this is because they were hedging their bets, or if the timetable of writing and shooting a feature film killed the spontaneity of the show, which had episodes written and produced in the span of a couple weeks. Either way, if you come into the film hoping to revisit familiar characters and get a few good laughs and a lot of quiet chuckles, then you'll be fine, and rewarded with a few priceless bits involving Amy Sedaris' Jerri Blank sexually harassing Tammy Littlenut and Sir Ian Holm sliding down a bannister. If you're expecting something even as good as the show's weakest episodes, you're in for a disappointment.
I was lucky enough to catch an early screening of the film with a panel featuring Sedaris and director Paul "Geoffrey Jellineck" Dinello immediately following the program. The audience was packed with Strangers With Candy superfans who were laughing loudly throughout the film and applauding whenever a character made their first appearance on the big screen. It was a slightly alienating experience to be around people who were totally losing their shit to jokes that I thought were only okay, but it was also fun to be in a room with so many people that were so obviously enthusiastic about one of my favorite sitcoms of all time. (Second only to Arrested Development!) As you might have guessed, Sedaris and Dinello were hilarious in the q&a, tossing off one-liners and wisecracks with an effortlessness that seemed much more in the spirit of the show than the frequently stiff movie.