By Jette Kernion (originally published on 10/29/06 -- Austin Film Festival)
I wasn't sure what to expect from a movie called Special, "special" being a word that gets used snarkily and ironically these days. Fortunately, Special turned out to be a good narrative feature with elements of comedy and drama, giving character actor Michael Rapaport a chance to really shine in a complex lead role.
Rapaport plays Les, who works as a meter maid -- only of course, being a guy, he's a parking enforcement officer. He won't admit to feeling depressed, but his job is causing him problems, so he signs up for a pharmaceutical trial of a new antidepressant, Special (Specioprin Hydrochloride). The drug is supposed to remove self-doubt; in Les, this means that he believes he has developed superpowers. He can feel himself floating in midair, and he can hear other people's thoughts. Perhaps he can even walk through walls. Is he becoming a superhero or progressively insane? His friends who run a comic-book store aren't sure whether they believe him, and the doctor who gave Les the pills is acting extremely odd. But Les is determined to pursue a life of heroic crime fighting, and he's not going to stop taking his Special pills.