Monday, April 27, 2009

Special (2006)

Directed by Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore. This movie felt like one of those Charlie Kaufmann movies, like "Adaptation" or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," where you can just barely tell which parts are really happening in the story or what a character is imagining or dreaming. This is a pretty essential part of the story, which is about a guy named Les (played by Michael Rapaport) who takes an experimental mood-enhancing drug and then either gains super powers or just believes he does.

Naturally what follows is a whole lot of allegorical stuff about what it truly means to be special, what truly represents a special power, how everything we need is inside us all along, how everyone is a hero, etc. Now here's the thing, the messages within this movie are about the same as those within "Hancock," a much huger Will Smith movie about a flawed superhero blah blah blah. "Special" communicates its message with a lot more class and subtlety, but damned if it wasn't exhausting. The Will Smith movie is downright wooden-headed as a piece of cinema, but it's hell of a lot more entertaining.

Listen, it's easy to take the high road and blather about how much more intelligent independent films are, and in nearly all cases, they are. But comparing "Special" to "Hancock" provides nearly a controlled test and its as simple as this: you want smart, stylish, thought-provoking and bittersweet, go to "Special." If you want to be entertained, see "Hancock."

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