`Strangers With Candy' is a treat

Review A-


Amy Sedaris turns herself into a depraved human sock puppet as Jerri Blank in Strangers With Candy, the delightfully sick big-screen version of the cult Comedy Central show that ran for three seasons in 1999 and 2000. Jerri's a 47-year-old recovering junkie and ex-con. Her eyes are like sad buttons in a sea of makeup -- they're Jack Sparrow eyes, only more so -- and her mouth is a slash that moves more horizontally than vertically. Jerri may also be a sex addict, but she thinks she might have become a prostitute to feed her drug habit: As she says, it's a which-came-first, "the chicken or the nugget" kind of thing.

What catapults her from the gutter into a kinky version of sitcom-land is her decision to return to high school after 32 years in prison or adrift. And what makes all this mordantly hilarious instead of weird and disturbing is its burlesque stylization. Without that, the movie might be unbearably painful, because it gives punky curves to all the humiliations of high-school comedies.

Strangers With Candy (ThinkFILM) Starring Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert. Directed by Paul Dinello. Rated R. Time 97 minutes.

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