Those mourning the demise of the unhinged Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy (1999?2000) know who you/we are. In which case, the mere announcement that Strangers With Candy, the movie, brings back 46-year-old ”boozer, user, and loser” Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) for more inappropriate, sorta thrillingly raunchy adventures in the halls of Flatpoint High School may stand as its own movie review.
The ostensible ”prequel” corrals the whole Candy gang, including Stephen Colbert as married-with-a-sexual-secret science teacher Chuck Noblet, Paul Dinello (who also directs) as art teacher (and object of Noblet’s affections) Geoffrey Jellineck, and Greg Hollimon as martinet principal Onyx Blackman. There’s the matter of a science-fair project, and a running joke involving the long-term vegetative condition of Jerri’s father (Dan Hedaya), an affliction that beset the old man on account of his daughter’s life on the streets and in the slammer for 32 years. (Just because he’s comatose doesn’t mean he can’t be trotted out to school events, like any other detached dad.) If you loved Amy Sedaris before in a golfer-lady wig and inbred chump’s grin, you’ll maybe love her again here, while wishing she had another TV-episode-size venue for her talents: There’s a whole lot of padding and stretching going on in these 85 minutes.
On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of groovy guest stars on hand, too — it’s hip kids’ night out. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Allison Janney throw all their classy might into playing prissy school board members. Matthew Broderick is a weaselly science-fair ringer. Sarah Jessica Parker rolls her eyes as an unmotivated guidance counselor. The series was created by longtime Chicago improv pals Colbert, Dinello, and Sedaris as a cracked but loving parody of after-school specials through the ages, the kind where learning and hugging — ugh — conclude all business. Mr. Colbert has, of course, gone on to become America’s most trusted source of ”truthiness” with his weeknightly Colbert Report. How nice — how American — that the bigwig is still true to his school.