A bizarrely funny adaptation of the 1999-2001 TV series, "Strangers With Candy" stars Amy Sedaris as Jerri Blank, a 47-year-old ex-con, ex-junkie, ex-hooker who, when she gets out of jail, decides to start all over again in high school. Her mother has passed away during her time in prison, and Jerri finds her father in a grief-induced coma. She thinks that, if she does well in high school and makes her father proud, he'll come out of the coma. Meanwhile, her new stepmother Sara (Deborah Rush) and stepbrother Derrick (Joseph Cross) are not exactly thrilled (he says to some classmates, "I think she's my sister...or somethin'") to see her.
Once at school, Jerri quickly clashes with a closested science teacher (Stephen Colbert), who keeps her out of the science fair, as he'd rather attempt to find his idea of "ringers" so that he'll win against an egotistical visiting teacher (Matthew Broderick), brought in by the school in an attempt to get continued funding. The film also sees Jerri try - in her own ill-mannered and lewd way - to make friends and make it into the "popular crowd".
The bits are hit (a running of the bulls in gym class)-and-miss, but the film's best comic creation is Blank herself, which sees Sedaris buried under make-up and a bad wig. The character's pricelessly weird appearance and Sedaris's demented facial expressions and off-beat sense of timing result in a character that's such a complete mess that it's difficult to look away. Colbert is also stellar in a sharply funny performance as the science teacher desperate to get an edge on the competition.
Fine supporting performances come from a legion of guest roles, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Janey and Broderick. "Strangers" definitely isn't going to be everyone's cup-of-tea and the story could have been streamlined and punched up a bit. However, the film at least consistently gives it an effort, throwing out surreal gag after surreal gag, hoping one will stick. Thankfully, a pretty decent number of them do.
VIDEO: Thinkfilm presents "Strangers" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation isn't great, but it's at least a watchable transfer. Sharpness and detail were inconsistent, as while the picture usually sported a reasonably good level of definition, other scenes could look noticably softer.
The presentation also sported some other concerns, such as occasional instances of artifacting and some minor edge enhancement. The print was generally in good condition, although a couple of specks were spotted. Colors looked a tad flat, but didn't appear smeary or otherwise problematic. Overall, this was an adequate transfer.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation could have been mono - this was completely dialogue-driven. Dialogue remained crisp and clear throughout.
EXTRAS: The main extra is a commentary from director/actor Paul Dinello and actors Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris. There's also a set of deleted scenes, a music video and trailers. The trio has a lot of fun on the commentary, joking about behind-the-scenes stories and chatting about the characters and development of the film.
Final Thoughts: "Strangers" definitely isn't going to be everyone's cup-of-tea. However, some of the surreal gags are quite funny, and Sedaris certainly crafted a strange and funny train wreck of a character in Jerri Blank. The DVD offers adequate video quality, fine audio and a few good supplements. Recommendeded for fans; others should rent first or try renting the series before watching the movie.
The Film B-