Saturday, April 18, 2009


SUPER POWER GAINED FROM WATCHING THIS MOVIE: The Ability To Write A Review About A Movie Called ‘The Specials’ And Not Make A Single Reetner Joke


An uptight Sandman, an indestructible American Maya, a Kennedy with blue balls, that lovable potato-eating prick Sam Seaborn, Office Pam, Sabrina Witch, and Deep Space Leeta cameos, a long-awaited Kip Winger reference, a tubby genius, a power-smothering soccer mom, a blobby alien, a dimwitted titan, the director’s house in Silverlake, the sheer journalistic greatness of Johnny Mountain, and a quirky good time with the middle class of the superpowers.

More details here.


The Specials are America’s middle-tier superhero team. Their roster includes laser-shooting leader Strobe (Thomas Haden Church), dura-skinned Ms. Invincible (Paget Brewster), shrinking Minute (‘my-noot’) Man (James Gunn), the charismatic bug Weevil (Rob Lowe), energy-bursting and perpetually horny Amok (Jamie Kennedy), bitter bitch Deadly Girl (Judy Greer), suffocating mother Power Chick (Kelly Coffield), goofy-morphing-E.T. Alien Orphan (Sean Gunn), newbie egg-laying Nightbird (Jordan Ladd), not-as-weak-as-his-namesake U.S. Bill (Mike Schwartz), the eight-bodied one-mind VIII, and tubby genius Mr. Smart (Jim Zuvelic). They are called when a flock of full-bowled seagulls threatens your houseboat, when a gang of septuagenarians bogarts the soup bar at Luby’s, or when the vice president gets kidnapped. They are the oddballs of super-powered herodom, but their time in the limelight is coming, in the form of the Academy Awards for superheroes: action figures! But inter-personal issues put a strain on the team: Strobe is so self-absorbed he ignores the need of his compatriots; Weevil is being wooed by a rival superteam while secretly banging Ms. Invincible; rehabilitated Amok is contemplating a return to evil deeds, U.S. Bill can’t find his own ass, Deadly Girl and Minute Man are in denial over their feelings for each other, and shy new member Nightbird is disillusioned by the pettiness of her childhood heroes. But plastic, multi-articulated redemption is coming, but unfortunately their shining moment is fleeting as the toy company releases an inaccurate, monstrous, and not very play-friendly version of our favorite atomic dorks. The team breaks up, the future dims, and who knows if they will ever muster the courage to save the Earth from poopy birds, hungry Grandpas, and Joe Biden.


Released a year after the affable and very similar Mystery Men, The Specials is a lighthearted, amusing, and low-budget look at the normal lives of average, everyday super-powered people. There are no world-ending conspiracies, no malevolent villains to conquer, and no money to spend on special effects. And this lack of comic book movie staples certainly works to the movie’s advantage, as we take a look into not only the world of dysfunctional superheroes, but also emotionally inept human beings who have to get beyond their quirks and hang-ups and function as a team. Sounds like any day at Tremendo HQ I can tell you. Due to its short running time, story structure, and look, the movie most of the time feels like a TV show pilot which minus the f-bombs and c-words might have actually worked. Well, unless it’s a Fox sitcom. Writer James Gunn, a rumored comic book geek, fashions some appealing and comical characters, carefully crafts them from superhero archetypes and transforms them into real people, the kind you probably hang out with, commiserate with, and call your friends. Strobe is the clueless egotist, Weevil is the self-serving egotist, Ms. Indestructible is the miserable spouse, Deadly Girl is the depressed misanthropist, Minute Man is everyone’s doormat, Amok is not trusted and therefore dismissed, U.S. Bill is the unintentional comedy relief, Mr. Smart’s intellect creates more problems than it solves, Power Chick and Alien Orphan are a misfit family, and Nightbird is the self-doubting ingénue. Yup, sounds like my kind of crowd. Plus there's a really clever character called VIII who could have had a movie all its own. I'll let you judge for yourself. The actors, particularly the women, all turn in good performances and even though the laughs aren’t exactly volleyed, each of the actors does a good job switching from wacky to sincere at the appropriate times. The Specials is indeed a special thing – an independent genre movie with a campy spirit, down-to-Earth chuckles, and a welcomed respite from high-budgeted smash-pow headaches.

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