Special – Review

Worth seeing: as an affectionate, off-beat and downbeat portrait of a loner and a loser who's desperate to make his mark
Director:Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore
Featuring:Michael Rapaport, Alexandra Holden, Amanda Carlin, Christopher Darga, Erich Anderson, Ian Bohen, Jack Kehler, Josh Peck, Karen Bryant, Paul Blackthorne, Robert Baker
Length:81 minutes
Certificate:15
Country:US
Released:17th November 2006

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

LA Parking attendant Les (Michael Rapaport) is a nobody. All he wants in life is to be special.
In the hope of helping to make a difference in the world, he signs up for the trial of a new drug, Specioprin Hydrochloride, branded by its makers as “Special.”
Whatever else it’s meant to do, it makes him feel strong. After a few days of taking the drug, all his anxiety has been replaced by extreme confidence.
Suddenly, he feels like he’s developing new powers – powers he should be using to help people.
He shows his only two friends that he can run through walls. He shows the doctor overseeing the drug trial that he can fly, by jumping off his desk. His audiences don’t seem to be as impressed by his new powers as he is. In fact, the doctor insists that he stops taking the medication, but Les is on cloud nine. For the first time, he feels like he can make a difference. Rather than stopping the treatment, he takes all of the remaining pills in one go.
When the makers of the drug begin to fear that his increasingly erratic and dangerous behaviour might jeopardise their whole trial, he gets the chance to demonstrate another of his powers – the ability to survive an almighty beating from two grown men with planks of wood.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is a shockingly impressive low budget feature debut from Jeremy Passmore and Hal Haberman.
It’s an affectionate portrayal of a loner and a loser, who’s desperate to make his mark on the world.
As he begs us to share his belief that he’s developed super powers, throwing in his old existence for a new life of crime-fighting, designing his own super-hero costume, it’s so blatantly clear that he’s losing his mind, you just want to jump into the film and slap him.
Every time he pushes his body to the test – you feel the pain he doesn’t, as his costume rips and blood drips from his face – while inside, he just goes from strength to strength.
He’s a desperately sad case, played by Rapaport with devastating warmth.
One of the clever things about the film is that no matter how much you feel like weeping for Les, you also sympathise with the people he believes are the bad guys – the conspiracy that’s out to strip him of his powers.
With a story like this, it could so easily have been given the Farrelly-brothers or Adam-Sander-esque treatment, but instead, we’re treated to an unusually mature, thought-provoking, off-beat and downbeat drama.
It’s one of the few films I’ve seen this year where my main complaint is that it’s too short.