The mentally and physically challenged have been making headlines recently, what with the protests over use of the word “retard” in “Tropic Thunder” and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s 4-month-old daughter with Down syndrome. While these two events run the risk of politicizing and exploiting the handicapped, DVD release “Special Needs” doesn’t let political correctness get in the way of a good joke while, at the same time, bring out the humanity of those who are supposedly disadvantaged.This Troma-distributed social satire, in the guise of a mockumentary, takes aim at reality TV. From writer-director Isaak James’ warped mind, the premise revolves around a narcissistic TV producer (played by James) and his casting cohorts — including a failed actress and a former prison guard — as they audition the physically and mentally disabled for a new reality show called “Handicaps.” In less capable hands, this subject could have evolved into awkward self-parody, but James instead offers auds a rip-roaring good time. “Special Needs” exposes the shallow, self-absorbed decisionmakers responsible for so much awful reality television that clogs the airwaves. Extras include deleted scenes, original trailer and “Troma Treasures” — videos and previews of other Troma fare, in addition to an intro by company president Lloyd Kaufman.
$19.95; Release date: July 29, 2008
Tech info: Dolby. Running time: 90 MIN.
Cast: Isaak James, Eva James, Michael C. Kricfalusi, Jared Morgenstern, Randall Middleton