Review: ‘Special (RX) Specioprin Hydrochloride’

A fable about a morose comic book fanatic's delusions and the power of suggestion, "Special" enjoyably toys with some knockabout comedy until it begins to take itself too seriously. Writer-director team Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore's debut film ultimately demonstrates the project was in need of one more draft before lensing.

A fable about a morose comic book fanatic’s delusions and the power of suggestion, “Special” enjoyably toys with some knockabout comedy until it begins to take itself too seriously. Writer-director team Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore’s debut film ultimately demonstrates the project was in need of (at least) one more draft before lensing, while giving Michael Rapaport an overdue opportunity for an interesting lead role. Hard sell will find some supporters, but most action will be at a few hipster fests and midnight venues.

Los Angeles parking meter cop Les (Rapaport) participates in a clinical study for a new drug dubbed “Special,” designed to turn off brain synapses connected to self-doubt. Where comic books allow Les some escape into superherodom, the drug suddenly seems to give him a chance at actual superhuman powers, from levitation to walking through walls. That this is entirely in Les’ mind is visualized in pic’s smartest and funniest passages, but as Les begins to go madly paranoid, darkness consumes an increasingly chaotic plot that needlessly distracts from the film’s ingenious antics.

Special (RX) Specioprin Hydrochloride

Production

A Rival Pictures presentation. (International sales: William Morris Independent, Beverly Hills.) Produced by Edward Parks, Frank Mele. Co-producer, Andre Fabrizio. Directed, written by Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore.

Crew

Camera (Fotokem color), Nelson Craig; editor, Mike Saenz; music, Tom Wolfe, Manish Raval; production designer, Nathan Amondson; art director, Zach Bangma; costume designer, Dawn Weisberg, Annie Bloom. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 20, 2006. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Michael Rapaport, Paul Blackthorne, Josh Peck, Robert Baker, Jack Kehler, Alexandra Holden, Ian Bohen.
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