'Special Needs' set for limited theatrical run
Could Isaak James be the next Trey Parker?Troma Entertainment impresario Lloyd Kaufman, who discovered Parker before he struck gold with “South Park,” believes the two have a lot in common. Kaufman picked up James’ mockumentary “Special Needs” for a limited theatrical release later this year before a homevideo release. The low-budget satire, about “handicapables” competing on a reality show, was rejected by the likes of Magnolia and First Run Features before Kaufman stepped up. Shot in straight-forward docu style for $20,000, “Special Needs” features a gangsta rapper with cerebral palsy and judges who admonish contestants to “enunciate better.” “We got a lot of flack, to be honest,” says James, who used his experiences on a reality show for SoapNet as inspiration. “We got a lot of reprimands.” Kaufman admits “Special Needs,” which has since been shown at the Calgary and Westwood film fests, is worlds apart from signature Troma fare like “The Toxic Adventure.” “It doesn’t have the usual Troma elements,” he chuckles. Kaufman, an outré mainstay on the Croisette every year at Cannes, has sparked to other offbeat fare over the years. Besides “Cannibal: The Musical,” a pic Parker wrote while still a student at U. of Colorado, Troma has distributed “Lollilove,” a mockumentary about a do-gooder couple directed by “The Office” star Jenna Fisher and starring her husband. Troma also gave early acting gigs to Vincent D’Onofrio (as Lobotomy in “The First Turn-On”) and Eli Roth (“Terror Firmer” and “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV”). “He covers a lot of very taboo subject matter that people are very afraid of,” says James.
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