Neither as outrageous nor audacious as its premise might suggest, “Special Needs” is a fitfully funny but mostly toothless satire of reality television. Using the increasingly overused mockumentary format, multihyphenate Isaak James details preparations for “Handicaps,” an “American Idol” clone for contestants with physical or mental disabilities. James stops short of actually rendering a sample episode, probably a smart move. But while going out of its way to avoid the potentially offensive, pic, which opened Dec. 7 at Gotham’s Two Boots Pioneer, covers familiar territory already mined by dozens of comedies about artistic squabbles and diva-like behavior in a showbiz workplace.
Warren Piece (James), a fey and affected producer, joins two long-time associates — rageaholic bitch Laura (Eva James) and former prison guard David (Michael C. Kricfalusi) — to pitch “Handicaps,” the latest project in his checkered career as a reality-TV maestro. Once production begins, however, the collaborators nearly sabotage themselves while exploiting overworked underlings. Ironically, auditioning contestants (including a few fakes, and others played by genuinely handicapped talents) is relatively easy, and occasionally amusing. Tech values are suitable for small-screen fare, which is what “Special Needs” is destined to be.