Distracting celeb cameos glut the screen (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, etc.), but the real stars of this Comedy Central spin-off are, and always have been, Amy Sedaris’s frighteningly protuberant buckteeth. Second billing should rightfully go to her screwy eyeballs, so crossed as to be enacting a fierce Mexican standoff.
Sedaris’s creation—46-year-old ex-con Jerri Blank, a pantsuited bisexual blowhard giving high school a second chance—is the stuff of brilliant sketch comedy. That it doesn’t quite make for a feature shouldn’t be a surprise; Sedaris, her director and several costars come from Second City, where overextending jokes is the norm. In this case, it’s with a deeply unfunny science-fair subplot.
Still, during the skit-appropriate first act, there’s much fun to be had, especially via director Dinello’s spacey art teacher (“You can trust me: I may look like an authority figure, but I have the mind of a child!”) and Stephen Colbert’s born-again science teacher, both of them closeted. The way Colbert dumps his former lover—a reassuring hand on the shoulder, morphing into a violent shove—is the perfect crystallization of this film’s twisted Afterschool Special ethos. Too bad there’s a lengthy detention period yet to come. (Now playing; click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf