Surly 9-year-old Milo (performed by Green with Seth Dursky's voice) is annoyed by the way his mother (Cusack) runs an efficient house. But this is precisely what the Martian Supervisor (Sterling) needs to help her raise her regimented planet's female population (the useless males are sent to an underground rubbish tip). After Milo accidentally hitches a ride to Mars, he's found by a human, Gribble (Fogler), who's hiding underground. And they meet a friendly Martian (Harnois) who wants to help them find and rescue Mom.
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Milo is a typical boy, anything that's good for him, he doesn't really like. His mom is always telling him to eat his greens, but he always tries to find ways around eating dreadful things like broccoli. As far as Milo's concerned, what do moms really know? He'll do just fine on his own. But all is about to change when Milo's mom is abducted by aliens.
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Amy Sedaris' Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy was an absurdist deconstruction of after school special conventions, following the wacky travails of 46-year-old ex-junkie, ex-con, ex-prostitute Jerri Blank (Sedaris) as she reentered high school as a freshman student. A potent cocktail of vulgarity, farcicality, and switchblade-sharp wordplay, the show was a mild cult hit for the then-fledging cable channel (as well as its first original live-action program), running for three brief seasons and eventually launching the career of Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report). Unceremoniously cancelled in 2000 just as it was hitting its ludicrous stride, Strangers with Candy seemed destined to become another footnote in television history, consigned to the same overlooked fate as Chris Elliot's Get a Life and Fox's recently canned Arrested Development. Until, that is, Sedaris and co-creators Colbert and Paul Dinello somehow convinced David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Inc. to produce a feature-length version of the disregarded pseudo-sitcom, which now arrives in theaters like a giant middle finger to every inspirational Hollywood melodrama that tries to argue that people can transform themselves for the better, hard work is rewarded, and heroin is bad.
Unfortunately, however, the cinematic Strangers with Candy - directed by Dinello, who also reprises his role as idiotic, effeminate art teacher Geoffrey Jellineck - only maintains its antagonistic inappropriateness long enough to fill out its first 45 minutes; after that, the tank runs pretty dry and the proceedings become akin to a mediocre TV episode in which plot, rather than scatological silliness, is the main focus. Its story is a prequel of sorts to the Comedy Central series. The film kicks off with a credit montage of Jerri's hilarious exploits in prison (murdering a fellow inmate, enjoying a shower with a naked female) before following her home, where she discovers her dad (Dan Hedaya) is in a coma, mom is dead and replaced by hateful stepmonster Sara (Deborah Rush), and she now has a loathsome jock half-brother named Derrick (Joseph Cross). When the family physician (played by Ian Holm!) suggests that Jerri might cure her father by trying to undo the past thirty-two years-worth of depraved behavior, she decides to enroll at Flatpoint High, where she finds herself both tussling with barely-in-the-closet science teacher Chuck Noblet (Colbert) and blissfully moronic principal Blackman (Gregory Holliman), and hanging out with friends Megawatti Sukharnabhoutri (Carlo Alban) and Iris Puffybush (Dolores Duffy).
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It must be said that things don't begin well, however, with its focus the film's star bitch, 15-year-old Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood), who looks to be the queen of her snotty private high school in Beverly Hills. Appearing at first to be the result of some hideous experiment whereby Reese Witherspoon's Election spunk and drive was spliced with the power-lusting evil of at least a couple of the Heathers, Kimberly soon shows herself to be an entirely different sort of villain. In the process of escorting a quiet new Arab student, Randa Azzouni (Adi Schnall), around campus and explaining to her the facts of life and a clinical cost/benefit analysis of the two of them being friends (Randa gets to hang out with one of the school's stars, while Kimberly thinks she looks prettier standing next to Randa), Kimberly drops in this little nugget, "I have respect for all races. But I'm really happy to have been born white." She then proceeds to list, in descending order, the races she would prefer to be, and then patiently explains to Randa - in her flat, rational, almost toneless voice - exactly why Arab would be her last choice ("No offence.").
Continue reading: Pretty Persuasion Review
Like some sketch-comedy Frankenstein monster made from the cutting-room entrails of "Clueless," "The Opposite of Sex," "To Die For," "Election" and "Heathers," the puerile social satire "Pretty Persuasion" is stinging only insomuch as its unsophisticated wit and overwhelming smugness are painful to sit through.
Writer Skander Halim and director Marcos Siega clearly watched all these movies before cranking out this disingenuous dark comedy about a manipulative, 15-year-old private-school tart (Evan Rachel Wood) who accuses a teacher (Ron Livingston) of sexual harassment just to get famous. But they didn't learn a thing from those droll, original pictures about sardonic nuance or creating a feeling of camaraderie towards an unsympathetic anti-heroine.
Wood ("Thirteen"), in a rudimentary role far beneath her proven talent, never shies away from the dangerously sharp edges of Beverly Hills brat Kimberly Joyce, who takes down her two best friends (and fellow accusers), an ambitious TV reporter (Jane Krakowski) and her father's business in her pursuit of her 15 minutes. But there's no wicked delight to be had in her machinations, which are so transparently premeditated that all the other characters in the movie (detectives, judges and lawyers included) have to be certifiable morons in order to advance the plot.
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