Monday, July 24, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: Strangers with Candy

A few nights ago, the fiancee and I went out to see Strangers with Candy, the movie inspired by the Comedy Central show of the same name.

The movie, at first, put me off. Have to admit, I didn't know what to expect from it. After all, I never heard of Strangers with Candy until the fiancee mentiond that she wanted to see the movie. All right, so I saw some previews before other movies, but I didn't know what to make of it except that it co-starred Stephen Colbert.

Imagine my surprise, though, when I learned that Sarah Jessica Parker, as the grief counselor, and Matthew Broderick, as the itinerant science fair marketing wiz. They did pretty good jobs playing their parts, but they really don't play enough of a role to receive more mention.

The worthwhile parts get played by Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Carlo Alban and Maria Thayer. Don't have much to say about Alban and Thayer other than doing a good job playing their characters and providing some good comedic timing.

Before moving onto Sedaris or Colbert, though, I should address my sense of the movie, itself. I would love to touch upon the formality of the movie as either/both a comedy or a satire. Unfortunately, I really don't have the best grip on the genres just yet. I guess I can best approach it by saying that it fits some pretty predictable stereotypical patterns, except that it tweaked them a lot with some bits of tastelessness and unexpected gags that make the whole movie worthwhile.

Unfortunately, I didn't catch onto the satirical until a couple minutes into the film. Steve Carrell has done plenty of comedy, but has also started doing some independent, artsy stuff, like Little Miss Sunshine. Sure, Colbert did Strangers with Candy, not Carrell. Even before watching the movie, the fiancee debunked my misconception and reinforced that the movie is a comedy. For some reason, though, I still had the taint of artsy expectations. Boy, was I wrong. Once I caught on, though, the movie worked really really well, and I had plenty of guilty laughs. Some righteous ones, too.

Sedaris does a great job playing the stupid and naive yet prison-educated ex-con that could cause some righteous trouble. I haven't seen her act before, so I really can't compare her work in this movie to anything else she has done. Nonetheless, she did a real good job carrying the movie and characterizing the character, Jerri Blank. I laughed at the stupid yet funny actions of the character but also felt a little pity and identification with her naivete and mistakes.

Colbert does an awesome job playing the self-involved recently saved by Jesus science teacher that is also in the closet. In many ways, this character reminded me of an emotionally unstable version of his character on The Colbert Report. I hope he doesn't get type casted as this one character, just with a minor detail changed here or there. Nonetheless, he plays the character well in Strangers with Candy and adds a lot to the movie.

So, if you're looking for a good comedic satire with a couple original bits and pieces, go check out Strangers with Candy. You may find your self just a little entertained.

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