A slightly troubled comic book nerd agrees to test a new medication, but soon finds it hard to seperate fantasy with reality. He believes that he has became a superhero. Now that he has found his only calling in life, he is out fighting crime. Soon the medical company are trying to get him to stop wearing their logo while he assaults people, and the company becomes his nemesis.
I'll start by saying that the only reason I am reviewing this on Film Bizarro is because I feel it's a film that is overlooked enough to belong here, and also that it's a film some of our readers would enjoy a lot.
With all the underdog/powerless superhero/nerdhero movies out there now such as "Defendor", "SUPER", "Kick-Ass" and even "Griff the Invisible" (with "SUPER" still being my favorite), "Special" was one that I thought would be more up my alley than the majority of them. Just like with "SUPER", it's easy to expect a full-blown comedy before you go into the film, however this is not light-hearted fun either. There's enough comedy to give you a few giggles through the film, but most of the film is bleak and extremely sad.
The two films that first come into mind when watching it are "Griff the Invisible" and... "Jacob's Ladder"! Which is an odd combination I suppose. It's because "Special" is about a loser who thinks he has real superpowers after going into a program to try a new medication. This medication turns this loser into a crazy man who strongly believes he actually has telepathic powers, can turn things invisible, and fly (or at least levitate). After a while the people behind the drug try to take him down because he is wearing their logo on his costume.
In "Griff the Invisible" a guy believes he has superpowers, and some silliness ensues of him trying them out in front of people. Just like in "Special". And then we have the who conspiracy/drug side-effects from "Jacob's Ladder". It's vague, but it's there. In the end, though, "Special" is it's own movie. What really makes it worth watching is Michael Rapaport's portrayal of Les, as it might be his best performance to date. Les is a really depressing character, and you quickly build a love-hate thing for him because of the way he acts. Because he truly believes he has these powers, he isn't letting anyone tell him otherwise. I think his character is amazingly interesting to follow, and for once I really loved it when a love interest became part of the story. This is both the good and bad thing about "Special". It's depressing and it manages to draw you into, all because of Michael Rapaport and his character. But then that's the only thing this movie has to offer.
The story becomes weaker and weaker the further you get into it. Around the time that the company start chasing him, I felt it went downhill. It's not that the movie turned bad, but there was nothing really interesting in there. That's why the character was alone in carrying the movie. Luckily I liked the character, so it worked, but I didn't care for the typical Hollywood-ish "the big bad company" plot that was developed. Simply having the character react badly to the medication was good enough. However, there is a scene towards the end that I thought was great and very moving that involved the company, where they beat the shit out of Les. But let's be honest, it could've been done with thugs or general assholes as well. Still, a good scene.
In the end it becomes another harsh non-super hero movie where the violence is rather straight on and realistic, the comedy is quickly forgotten and the characters are depressing. "Special" is still a very acceptable movie next to the rest of them. It's a strong character drama with a little twist even though the story doesn't hold up, and certain parts are over-the-top (mostly when it comes to Les being beaten or a hit by car). I recommend it if you like the other films in the "subgenre", or if you just want a slightly different drama with a few messages about loneliness, being an outsider, and all that stuff. As usual.