Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 31


Audience Score

User Ratings: 29,561
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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 levitate, to read peoples' minds, and even walk through walls. Faced with the dilemma of how best to utilize his new "powers," the answer seems obvious to Les. He puts together a homemade superhero suit and hits the streets to fight crime and protect the world from the forces of evil. Surveillance video soon exposes Les and his actions to the public via television news and therefore brings him to the attention of the businessmen developing the drug. Worried about the bad publicity Les is bringing to their new anti-depressant, they attempt to put an end to his superhero antics before too much damage is done. However, in typical comic book fashion, Les sees the men from the drug company as his evil arch nemeses--"The Suits"--men who want him to join them in their evil plan to use 'Special' to create an army of unstoppable assassins. Les refuses to play ball.

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News & Interviews for Special

Critic Reviews for Special

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (12)

  • 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.

    Nov 24, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The premise is intriguing, and the film is occasionally amusing, but it feels stuck between a completely satirical farce and an aching drama.

    Nov 24, 2008
  • Rappaport does a yeoman's job in this tonally confused oddity.

    Nov 21, 2008 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 21, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Ultimately it adds little to our understanding of the curious return of the superhero as our paradigmatic pop archetype.

    Nov 21, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Shot for pennies -- a cash limitation that benefits the production's creativity and credibility -- this haunting film keeps shifting the ground under our feet

    Nov 21, 2008 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Special

  • Jun 05, 2014
    A film that keeps you wondering until the end as to whether or not the lead has special powers or is creating them in his mind. Obviously low budgeting and the acting slips every now and again but not bad.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2012
    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.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2012
    You know Michael Rapaport is a good actor if you want a guy who always looks like he's angry and ready to explode. He's typically a guy you see mostly in supporting roles as the angry man. Basically he's never played a character with any real emotional depth, at least that I'm aware of. So this movie is a nice change of pace and it shows, that if given the chance, this guy can act and do a great job at it in fact. He takes this character and gives it a very sympathetic portrayal, you come to care for this guy and his struggles with depression and how that leads him to turn into a hero so he can feel a sense of worth and importance to this world. It definitely has a positive message for people who go through these same issues and that's a really cool thing. The movie also has its funny moments, but I don't think it needed to be hilarious. It has a lot more going for it than just the comedy. It's just a really good movie with, unarguably I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise, Michael Rapaport's best performance ever.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2012
    With the serious, "dedicated" performance from Michael Rapaport, Special would just be another low budget, independent film. But with that performance comes a truthfulness that carries the off-the-wall concept to a level of seriousness that is then taken seriously. With the craze of average people becoming superheroes (Kick Ass, Super, Bad Ass), Special is a nice change of pace, looking more at the human psyche rather than the bravado and action that comes with fighting crime.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer

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