STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $27.98
• Deleted Scenes
• Filmmaker Commentary
• “Atomic Car” Music Video
• Trailer

The Pitch

“Teacher teacher, can you reach me? Can you tell me what I need to know?”

The Humans

Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Dan Hedaya (Joe Versus the Volcano), Ian Holm (Dreamchild), Greg Hollimon, Carlo Alban, Maria Thayer, Justin Theroux (The Baxter), Allison Janney (Nurse Betty), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Mission: Impossible III), Kristen Johnston, Matthew Broderick (Project X), Sarah Jessica Parker (Flight of the Navigator)

"I feel like some Bob’s Big Boy right now."

The Nutshell

Junkie jailbird Jerri Blank (Sedaris) returns to high school after thirty-two years, in the hopes that picking up her life where she left off will somehow wake her father (Hedaya) from a coma. She brings with her the prison-fresh essence of the ‘70s: ugly clothes, ugly hair, freaky drugs, great tunes.

The Lowdown

I’m a stranger to Strangers myself. That shouldn’t be an issue here, since this is a prequel to the cult Comedy Central series, but the movie definitely assumes that you’ve seen the show. What plot there is quickly takes a backseat to several well-workshopped characters: in addition to Jerri, there’s two teachers (Colbert and Dinello) stuck in a dysfunctional gay affair; two school board auditors (Janney and Hoffman) stuck in a dysfunctional hetero affair; and a thoroughly incompetent principal (Hollimon steals the show) who’s completely in love with himself.

"You got served, Rich Little!"

Ultimately, though, much of the humor is disposable—having seen this in the theatre and again on DVD, I found the comic returns well diminished. Comedy relies on the shock of recognition—of seeing issues and ideas onscreen that you were sure existed only in your own head. Very few of the references here actually reflect on real life; this is Latch-Key Kid comedy and you’ll have to have watched an ungodly amount of after-school TV to keep track of all the things being satirized.

The end credits are awesome though.

"The secret is to picture the audience in their underwear."

The Package

Sedaris, Colbert, and Dinello hang out like the old pals they are on the commentary track: I visualize them smoking under the bleachers on Spirit Day. They don’t have much to say that’s specific to the movie, and it sounds like none of them had time to get familiar with the final cut before jumping right into production on the DVD. “Is this scene back in?” is a common refrain. It might also be that, having already provided extensive background on the discs for the TV series, they felt there wasn’t much left to add.

Lionsgate really has some stones advertising the “Outrageous Never-Before-Seen Music Video” video on the front of the box. It’s a one-joke gag at best.

7 out of 10