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Strangers with Candy

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BE TRUE TO YOUR SCOWL Sedaris won't be cutting class this time.
BE TRUE TO YOUR SCOWL Sedaris won’t be cutting class this time.

Time Out says

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

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