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3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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by Laura Kyle

"The wacky consequences of being ordinary."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: When Les, a 30-something with a dull career in parking enforcement and a hobby for reading comic books, stumbles across a clinical research trial for a drug called Special, which is supposed to cure self-doubt, he immediately agrees to participate. Soon, he's feeling a little more than just special, but super. He's convinced he has super powers and begins taking the steps to respond to his new superhero calling.

Unpredictable, hilarious, sad, touching, dramatic -- these are all words to describe Special, thanks to the refreshing script by directors Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore and Michael Rapaport's stunning performance.

Rapaport has been the token loud New Yorker buddy/sidekick in movie after movie (see Beautiful Girls, Hitch, his many guest appearances on TV shows, and almost every other thing he's been in) and he's played that character amazingly well. But now he takes elements of that stereotypical role and explores them to a whole new degree as Les.

Les' new superhero status invigorates him and transforms his once complacent, ordinary life, which involved being routinely scolded for letting people off on parking tickets, into a life of fighting crime -- complete with a homemade costume and everything. His special powers include walking through walls, reading minds, and even flying.

But when the police, his friends, and the folks who created Special try to contain him, Les is persuaded there is an elaborate conspiracy against him.

His delusions are sometimes obvious, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes sad. But the line between reality and fantasy is not always clear and despite the unexpected side effects of the drug, Les might really get that self-doubt cured for good, if he can survive the threat of his new enemies that is.

Special is effective because at its heart is a very plain story of a man who just wants to feel important and unique amid his bleak, predictable day-to-day routine. Add in all sorts of nutty and comical and frightening plot turns and Special becomes a lot more than a just a character-driven narrative made for the insecure person inside all of us, but an original and suspensful psychological scifi drama that never gets too sentimental or too mysterious.

Another intriguing aspect about Special, is the concept that an experimental anti-depressant could lead to such chaos is not too unbelievable, so the film almost doubles as a cautionary tale.

Special is a brazen first-time effort for both Haberman and Passmore (though Haberman wrote The Failures in 2003 and Passmore wrote and directed a short called Crossing in 2002) and a truly unexpected turn in Rapaport's formally unremarkable film career.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13640&reviewer=369
originally posted: 10/23/06 19:06:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2007 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/12/11 mr.mike I preferred "Defendor". 3 stars
3/09/07 Dr Trendy Legbroken A very heartwarming film, not so good an ending 4 stars
11/05/06 Dr. Albert Chinzo i saw this at Edinburgh this summer and it was just fabulous. 4 stars
10/29/06 Kris Galuska Saw it at the Austin Film Festival. One of the best movies of the year. 5 stars
9/20/06 Bob Crackhower Excellent movie! 5 stars
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  21-Nov-2008 (R)
  DVD: 31-Mar-2009



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