Monday, April 27, 2009

SPECIAL (2006)

SUPERPOWER GAINED FROM WATCHING MOVIE: The Ability To Ask My Doctor About My Crushing Depression, Heartache, and Mild Gas


He is Rappaport, the Wonder Geek Twins, Melanie Tillis, Dickhead Harry Dresden, Kenny Blankenship in the flesh, the only Meter Maid in the world who’s not a creepy prick, and Medicating the Superman Delusion.

More details here.


Les (Michael Rappaport) is a lonely parking enforcement stuck in a humdrum life with no real purpose and multiple dead ends. His only friends are two brothers Joey (Josh Peck) and Everett (Robert Baker), a couple of jerky pothead comic book store clerks who share Les’ passion for superheroes. Seeking answers and something to fill the void in his life, Les enrolls in an experimental therapy program for the chronically depressed. Dr. Dobson (Jack Kehler) prescribes him a new drug called “Special”, a revolutionary antidepressant that’s been wildly successful in clinical testing. Les takes the pills and shortly thereafter experiences amazing side effects including the power of flight, teleportation, telepathy, and time travel. The problem is, these abilities exist only in his head. A completely deluded Les then quits his job, puts on a costume with the “Special” logo on his back, and wanders the night fighting crime. He saves his romantic interest Maggie (Alexandra Holden), a local cashier at a market, from an attempted robbery but even this act of bravery hasn’t allowed him to build up the nerve to actually talk to her. Time goes on and his behavior gets more erratic as he tackles people in convenience stores he believes are “thinking” about crimes without actually committing them. This draws the attention of the police, a concerned and guilt-ridden Dr. Dobson, and the evil Exiler brothers Jonas (Paul Blackthorne) and Ted (Ian Bohen) who are corporate owners of the Special drug hoping for a big sale to a pharmaceutical giant and can’t stand the negative publicity Les’ antics are attracting. But despite help from his friends and Maggie, Les continues his heroic battle against super-villainy in his brain and he’s rapidly becoming a liability for the Exilers, an endearment for Maggie, and a life-threatening danger to himself and the color of the sky in his world.


Despite a lackluster ending, Special lives up to its name as a subtle, well-shot, and finely structured low budget comedy about loneliness, desperation, and the inner superhero waiting to burst from within all of us. Don’t expect a dreary sobfest or rollicking laugh-a-minute good time, though. The movie is simple and moves at its own pace while building up a unique visual style with clever effects depicting Les’ “powers” and does a pretty good job of making us care about his plight through his assured but distressed narration. Rappaport, who in the past was known to overplay flamboyant or aggressive roles, pulls off a sympathetic and touching portrayal of what could have become a loathsome loser in search of a clue and a life. It’s not a simple thing to create a character that we can laugh at, sympathize and perhaps empathize at the same time but Rappaport almost makes it look easy. And because we see what he is seeing when he performs the super-heroics in his head, we are intimately drawn into his world of fabulous four-color illusion. The rest of the cast does a good job to support Les in his pursuit for hallucinatory justice, particularly Blackthorn as the heavy, but it’s Holden as the love interest who brings out the real emotion in Les, particularly when they discover that they both share the same feeling of being an outsider. Just like Les, Special strives to do its best despite its limitations and results in a poignant little movie about the unexpected strength of humanity at its lowest point.

Especially if you’re doped out on goofballs.

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