May 24, 2006

Not So Perfect "Strangers"

I never really got "Strangers With Candy" when the show was on Comedy Central. I know, a lot of people I know thought the show was absolutely brilliant, but I never really understood what was so funny about it- it just seemed weird, and I got the feeling watching it that its humor was operating at a wavelength literally of another world than my own. But when I heard they were coming out with a movie version and there was a screening, I figured it couldn't hurt, so I went and saw the film yesterday. And... yikes.

Now once again, perhaps I just didn't get it. But I laughed maybe twice at the entire 90-minute movie, which didn't touch "funny" with an 80-foot pole. The main problem is with the main character, played by Amy Sedaris. A movie is always in trouble when the protagonist is more interested in being annoying than being funny, which is why I hated all the early Adam Sandler films while my friends loved them.

Like those Sandler roles, Sedaris gives a performance consisting entirely of weird noises, stupid facial expressions, and "funny" lines that make no sense. In this case, I absolutely loathed Jerri Blank and rooted for bad things to happen to her, a reaction I haven't had to a fictional character since Lisa Kudrow's awful HBO show was canceled.

And on top of that, the plot is nonsensical (something about a science fair) and talented actor upon talented actor is sent up to embarrass themselves. There will be no multimedia debate, alas, about whether or not Stephen Colbert is funny in this movie. Allyson Janney, Dan Hedaya, and numerous others show, do nothing, and then are shunted off-screen. I still have no idea what the hell Philip Seymour Hoffman was doing wasting his time with this movie.

The worst movie I've seen this year, easily, and probably of last year too (since that's when it was made.) There must be a reason why the film sat on the shelf for nearly two years. Once again, lots of people I greatly respect are huge fans of this character/show. Why that is, I'll never understand- I can think of about 40 shows that have aired on Comedy Central in the past decade that would make better movies than this one.

Posted by Stephen Silver at May 24, 2006 04:28 PM
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