Special (2006)



Critic Consensus: This quirky indie comedy's low budget is readily apparent, but it's elevated by Michael Rapaport's dedicated performance.

Movie Info

Les Franken is a kind-hearted and soft-spoken man who loves reading comic books. He's the type of guy who most people walk by on the street without even noticing; in essence, he's completely average and virtually invisible. However, everything changes for Les the day he is accepted into an experimental drug study for a new and exciting anti-depressant, Specioprin Hydrochloride. As Les begins to take the drugs an unexpected side effect occurs--he begins to develop special powers: the ability to … More

Rating: R (for language, some violence and brief drug use)
Genre: Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 31, 2009
Magnet Releasing - Official Site


as Jonas Exiler

as Everett

as Doctor
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Critic Reviews for Special

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (10)

I just thought it was a cool indie film with a great leading performance from an actor we don't usually get to see in a lead.

Full Review… | November 24, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

The premise is intriguing, and the film is occasionally amusing, but it feels stuck between a completely satirical farce and an aching drama.

Full Review… | November 24, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

Rappaport does a yeoman's job in this tonally confused oddity.

Full Review… | November 21, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

It may not be perfect, but this under-the-radar indie from Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore is smart enough to leave you glad you found it.

Full Review… | November 21, 2008
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Ultimately it adds little to our understanding of the curious return of the superhero as our paradigmatic pop archetype.

November 21, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

Its ambitions are limited -- though at 81 minutes, wisely proportioned -- but its heart is in the right place.

Full Review… | November 20, 2008
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Special


What happens when a parking meter cop with low self-esteem gets super powers? What if he just believes he has super powers even though they're just hallucinations? It's kind of a funny premise, and with a target as big as the modern pharmaceutical industry, you think it'd be rife with wicked satire, but "Special" is more content to be a psychological study of an insecure man on the verge of madness. Les (Michael Rapaport) is a mild-mannered loser who signs up for an experimental new drug designed to boost self-confidence. The drug works wonders for most in the test group, but for Les, a man obsessed with comic books and super heroes, it gives him the illusion he's garnered some new and unique super powers of his own, which he, of course, must use to combat evil wherever he may find it (usually at the local convenience store). The financial backers of this new wonder drug find out about Les' super hero adventuring, mainly due to him wearing their logo on the back of his homemade superhero suit, and are displeased to see some nut scaring off the pharmaceutical company they were hoping to sell it to, and so they begin to try and hush him up (which only serves to fuel his paranoia). As I said, it's a movie detailing a man's descent into madness, and while is has moments of comedy, it's very dark to be sure. Filmed on an obviously tight budget, the filmmakers make the most of what money they have to use. The movie really isn't bad, that is, until the final act, where they kind of lose focus (and steam). The ending is a bit of a mess. Still, it's not a bad attempt at a movie.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer


A nerdy, social misfit volunteers for an experimental medical study of a new drug and discovers that the pills give him super powers.

Back in high school I knew this guy who was kinda tall, had curly red hair, freckles, and was a total prick. Michael Rapaport looks a lot like that guy. Now, that's not Michael Rapaport's fault, but every time I see him, in my mind, I see that other ass-hole. Why, you ask, am I telling you this? Because for me to say that Michael Rapaport is good in anything he has to be really (REALLY) good. In this film, he's good.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


A churning, dark drama that inexplicably bills itself as satirical or humorous. The concept: to play out dark psychological drama against a paper-thin backdrop of comic-book heroism is jarring to say the least... especially when the self-importance of such a backdrop is continually torn and punctured by the presence of the reality underneath it all. This isn't a film about a superhero dealing with being human, or a human trying to be a superhero. In the end, its an average human dealing with being human and getting very messed up in the process.

Sadly, the plot is riddled with holes, and a small array of cinematic stylizations that eventually wear a bit thin.

It takes a bit of effort to see past the low-budgeted hurdles... but such effort is rewarded with a glimpse of the inspired acting by Rapaport (the film beautifully abuses his nice-guy persona) as well as the simple yet grittily accented story underneath it all.

A unique presentation of a depressing concept, which falters more often than it flies. Yet unlike other films, whose failures confuse or anger, one can clearly see (and enjoy) the film that lies beneath the blemishes. That achievement alone is something to be celebrated, and is the essence of independent film-making.

Daniel Hetteix

Super Reviewer

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