Movie Marketing Madness: Strangers With Candy

The Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy was one that I never really got into. I didn’t quite “get” the show or its central storyline, that of 40-year old hooker Jerri Blank and her return to high school after a lifetime of booze, drugs and other problems. It seemed to get lost in my mind with so many other comedy shows on the network that came and went with little note. That being said, I knew that some people loved it and eventually respected it as a launching pad for Steven Colbert.

The movie focuses on that storyline of Jerri Blank. She’s recently left rehab and decides to pick up her life where she left it off – in high school. When she does so she finds a world very different from the one she left, except for the booze, sex and drugs. Those are still pretty much the same.

The Poster

That’s just disturbing. Blank is showing off her middle-aged hinder righ there at the front. The one-sheet shows her in front of her younger and more shall we say toned counterparts in school. Other than that there’s not a whole lot to the poster other than the name. Since that name, the brand recognition of the old TV series, is going to be the primary driver of traffic to the theater for this movie, that’s just fine. It’s a bright and vibrant poster that nonetheless manages to convey the dark comedy aspect of the movie. Good stuff

The Trailers

The teaser trailer has problems. For one thing there’s almost no mention of any plot whatsoever. It’s just a collection of funny moments from the movie, a couple of which feature Colbert as a closeted homosexual science teacher. That being said it’s not much more than a clip reel.

The theatrical trailer is a bit better since it does feature an outline of the movie’s plot. We follow Jerri as she leaves her rehab center and reenters the world and proceeds to encounter some problems. That part is good. But there’s an absolutely horrible voice over that spells things out in an amazingly annoying way. Like I said, reinforcing the connection to the TV show is good and should be a major selling pint but please try to do it better than this.

Both commit what I consider a mortal sin for trailers. They both take two lines of dialogue and put them next to each other when they’re completely separate in the actual movie. Amy Sedaris says “I hate you,” and then it cuts to an unrelated scene between her and Colbert. That kind of thing bugs me because it’s more or less intentional misleading of the audience. The interchange doesn’t actually happen but someone after the fact thought it would be funny so they spliced it together. It amounts to a kind of bait-and-switch and I’m tired of it.

Online

The movie’s official website features one of the best images of all time to show the site is loading. It’s a drug needle pulling liquid out of a spoon. Read that sentence again. I literally don’t know what to do with that.

Most of the rest of the site is more or less by the book. The main page shows a high school announcement board with a bunch of posters. Click on some and be taken to things like Trailers or Wallpapers or AIM icons. Click on others and hear an audio clip from the movie. There are also two lockers off to the right that have more content. One houses a Photo Gallery and the other a Synopsis and Cast & Crew bios. The bios are kind of interesting in that they’re laid out like a yearbook, which is at least movie appropriate. Unfortunately the majority of the site doesn’t live up to the promise of the drug needle intro.

Overall

Considering the movie has reportedly been sitting in a studio vault for something like two years it’s good that it’s finally getting released. The marketing effort unfortunately reflects the movie’s status as kind of a cast-off in that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of effort behind it. They went through the motions and checked off the appropriate items but didn’t really work too hard at it. I’m a little surprised, as I mentioned a while ago, that Stephen Colbert wasn’t brought more to the forefront of the campaign considering his all-star status nowadays. Kind of makes me think he’s not in the movie all that much and the marketing team didn’t want to over sell his role. That’s just an assumption, though.

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