In an age where superhero movies rule the box office, it's refreshing to see a different kind of superhero movie: one starring underrated actor Michael Rapaport. In the movie Special, directed and written by Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore, Rapaport plays a man who, after being prescribed some pills, is given the gift of telepathy and flight. Well, at least he thinks he has those gifts. In reality, he's having a severe psychotic reaction to his medication, but that doesn't stop him from performing heroic deeds - or at least what he thinks are heroic deeds.
Special is a clever little film. Neither stellar nor mediocre, it is by all means worthwhile, if ultimately unmemorable. Rapaport plays his part well, balancing between heroic do-gooder and troubled meter maid with ease. His performance as what is essentially a severe schizophrenic is quite masterful, though he will never get the awards to prove it. Aided by a pretty decent screenplay, Rapaport drives the film to a satisfying conclusion. As for the directors, kudos to them for taking us into the mind of such a figure - and pulling us back out at times, to where it's never clear what exactly was real and what was in his head. In many ways, it's like a less clever Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, only where the line between reality and imagination is much more blurred.
Special may possibly be the lowest budget superhero film to ever hit theaters (it is playing in very limited theaters right now), as there are very few special effects and a gritty, off-the-cuff look to it. For the type of film Special is, this works handily. Who knew that a superhero movie could cost under a million dollars to make? Take that, Ang Lee.
There's not much else to say about Special. Rapaport does a good job, the story is interesting and the conclusion fulfilling, though the movie is a victim of its own concept. Since Rapaport is not truly a superhero, the movie never allows him to truly have a major superhero experience; as a drama and character study, it works better, but as such there's no real point. Ultimately, it is what it is - and what it is I'm not quite sure - and it could make for a worthwhile rental if you're in the mood for something a little different.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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