The Specials (2000) - Can't Stop the Movies
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The Specials (2000)

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The Specials
is an off beat superhero comedy that came out one year after Mystery Men.The film had a budget of $1 million, most of which must have gone to pay the actors, because they only use their terrible special effects once (well, twice, kinda), and if they had hired another writer, someone who was as good with plot and pacing as writer James Gunn was with funny dialogue, then maybe the script wouldn't seem so rushed. Though, talking shit about this movie is kinda like going to the hospital to sack punch paraplegics because, while this movie cost a million to make, it only grossed $12,996* Besides, I really like this movie.

If this movie were a superhero, it would likely be recruited by its eponymous superheroes, The Specials, a D-List supergroup that prides itself on being there for "the oddball, the rebel, the outcast, the geek." The film is as awkward as it's main characters: the plot is uninteresting and exists mainly as a vehicle for character interactions, yet every sympathetic moment in the film misses the mark due largely to a lack of character development. Yet, despite all of this, the film succeeds, due to those incredibly expensive actors, and their considerable talent for delivering the script's amazing jokes.

Awesome headgear is a hallmark of The Specials.

The Specials is, above  all else, quotable. I think every character but Nightbird** had one moment where, if it were the only good moment in the film, it would still be worth watching. It surprises me, actually, that this film didn't develop a cult following. "Obscurity," "Nerdiness," and "quotability," are three qualities which tend to contribute to this kind of thing, and this movie has an abundance of all three. It's happened to worse movies.

Like I said, I really like this movie. I didn't want to review it at first, afraid that my love for the film wouldn't survive a more critical viewing. I thought I would spend most of the review tearing apart the film's various flaws. And, well, that's pretty much what I did. And yet, my love remains. As cliche as it might sound, the film's imperfections and its surprisingly funny moments give the movie its charm. This low budget, limited release, offbeat superhero comedy, about a group of plucky, oddball superheroes trying to make the big time yet never succeeding, creates a meta narrative about a group of plucky, oddball filmmakers with similar dreams and fates.

They have a fairly big table.

* The IMDb figures don't appear to factor in DVD sales, so this figure might be off by as much as $20-$40.

** Poor Jordan Ladd. Mr. Gunn seemed to assume that her talent as an actress was inversely proportional to her boobs. I haven't seen her in anything else, so maybe that assessment is correct, but it's sad that she wasn't even given a chance. Also, come to think of it, Alien Orphan also sucked. I mean, maybe Nightbird didn't get any good lines, but she at least contributed something to the film. Alien Orphan just pissed me off.

AV Club Style Footnotes:

-If you've been watching TV for the past couple years, you'll notice numerous incidental cameos from actors who would become famous a few years later. Jenna Fisher shows up and pisses off Minute Man! Kitty from Arrested Development calls Melissa Joan Hart a bitch and tells her to get the fuck off of her lawn! Even that douchebag from NCIS shows up towards the end!

-When I say the script seemed rushed, what I mean is that it didn't give the characters the time or attention necessary to build towards the emotional moments of the film's climax. Also, I think it's interesting to note that the film also had no clear protagonist.

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Posted by Andrew

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  1. I have loved this movie since I first saw it in college 8 or so years ago. The low budget scrappy feeling of the movie is what makes it so endearing.

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