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Review: Special

Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore’s story is fit for a 15-minute short rather than a feature-length narrative.

1.5
Special
Photo: Magnet Releasing

Playing like a hastily produced rough draft, Special concerns a lonely, undistinguished parking ticket attendant and comic-book fan named Les (Michael Rapaport) who agrees to participate in a clinical trial for a drug called Special and, subsequently, begins developing superpowers. Or at least he thinks he does, as the drug (designed to suppress “self-doubt”) soon amplifies his own fantasies—of being powerful, important, brave, somebody—to the point of making him outright delusional. Directors Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore generate initial mystery by adhering to Les’s perspective, yet once it’s revealed that he is, in fact, not walking through walls but simply into them (hence the bloody noses), the filmmakers haphazardly flip-flop between subjective and objective POVs in order to create phony ambiguity about Les’s true human/superhuman condition. This inconsistency is matched by a dull literalness, as intro narration and subsequent shots of Les being maltreated by a motorist and condescended to by his boss (not to mention the name of the drug, and film, itself) leadenly lay out the reasons behind his hallucinations. Rapaport’s understated moroseness makes Les moderately empathetic but the character is ultimately just another in a long line of quiet, forlorn cinematic outcasts, and his visions—save for one in which he speaks with “future Les” about insane diabolical plots at work—largely flatline. Les soon comes to believe that the brothers (Paul Blackthorne and Ian Bohen) who run the drug company are malevolent villains, thereby giving the lethargic story a minor jolt of dramatic conflict. As with the rest of Special, however, this fantasy battle between good and evil is merely a cute, minor idea with little depth and even less conscious purpose, fit for a 15-minute short rather than a feature-length narrative.

Cast: Michael Rapaport,Paul Blackthorne, Josh Peck, Robert Baker, Ian Bohen, Jack Kehler Director: Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore Screenwriter: Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore Distributor: Magnet Releasing Running Time: 82 min Rating: R Year: 2006 Buy: Video

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