The Specials (R)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: none that I know of
Hmmm. Well, first of all I should say I first watched this in 2010. It's kind of hard for me to believe it came out in 2000, 10 years ago. In a way it kind of reminds me of Mystery Men which came out in 1999, though it's not nearly as good as that movie. Actually I suppose there might be any number of superhero movies or shows to which it's vaguely similar... It deals with a team called "the Specials," who are considered the 6th or 7th greatest super team in the world, according to the movie. They're here for the oddballs, rebels, outcasts, geeks. Honestly, it doesn't seem that original to me to have a group like this, a sort of parody or farce or whatever. But maybe some of the things it would bring to mind came out later than this... or not. Either way, the point is, they're not that super. But unlike most such stories, we never really see them in action at all. It's not like some story of underrated underdogs who make good in the end. I think it's safe to assume they've always been capable of doing some good, and always will be... but they'll never be anything special in the superhero community, and they'll probably always be a bit of a joke.
What the movie is about is... their sort of coming to terms with the reality of what they are, after facing an internal crisis which is actually sort of... commonplace. Here's the thing... it's mostly centered around the debut of a line of toys based on the group. It's supposed to give them greater relevance, as well as an influx of cash... but when they actually see the toys, they realize the line is crap, since they don't accurately represent the heroes at all (some of the toys are even supposed to be villains instead of heroes). As bad as this is, it's not the biggest problem for the team. The leader, the Strobe (Thomas Haden Church), is kind of an egomaniac, but on the night the toy line is unveiled, he discovers that his wife, Ms. Indestructible (Paget Brewster), is having an affair with the Weevil (Rob Lowe), which makes him reevaluate himself and everything, and he ends up announcing that he's disbanding the team. This is also the first day that a new member called Nightbird was joining the team. She's been a fan of the Specials since she was a kid, though what she learns about them is disillusioning (yet she also lacks self-confidence in her own powers). And basically, everyone in the group has their own problems. Weevil has been offered membership in a more respectable super team called the Crusaders (though they're probably bigger jerks than anyone in the Specials, we only ever really see their leader, Verdict). Weevil isn't sure what he wants to do, and his eventual choice doesn't appear to be one with which he's comfortable, but... he has to live with it. There's also Minute Man (the Strobe's brother), who is upset that people always mispronounce his name (it's minute as in small, not a unit of time), among other complaints. There's Power Chick, who seems to like everyone, whether they necessarily deserve it or not. There's Deadly Girl (Judy Greer), who can enter the world of the dead and summon demons. She's kinda creepy and cold, though she clearly cares about her teammates (some of them, anyway). There's an alien shapeshifter called Alien Orphan (Sean Gunn), though Power Chick has started calling him Doug. He's not good at communicating, and is just really odd... though actually I think of him as a young child, even if he looks like an adult. There's Mr. Smart, who invents weird stuff, but is basically useless. There's Amok (Jamie Kennedy), a former supervillain who is annoyed because he feels like his past means he'll never really be trusted. Or whatever. Though he does seem rather more interested in sex than anything else. There's Eight, who has eight bodies that share one mind, who is perhaps more philosophical than the others in the group, and less inclined to take an active part in anything. There's U.S. Bill, who seems to be, um, developmentally challenged.
So, I dunno what to say, really. The Strobe's decision to disband the group serves as a catalyst for the others to... think about things. Make decisions. Whatever. I dunno. Honestly, nothing much really happens, and I feel like it isn't some big spoiler to say the group doesn't disband, after all. I feel like it's this sort of thing that can happen to anyone... shit happens, you say you're gonna quit your job or whatever, and you mean it, and then... you just don't. You go back to work the next day, as usual. It's weird for a minute, then it's back to life as usual. (Even if the usual happens to be saving the Pentagon from giant ants, for example.) Oh, I should also say that occasionally we see the various members of the Specials apparently speaking in some sort of interview, or whatever... which reminds me of the beginning of The Incredibles (which is much better than this movie). Actually, it's more like some kind of reality show confessional, or something. I dunno. Anyway, the movie is mildly amusing, and like, I vaguely care about these people's problems, I guess. It's kind of lame that we never really get to see them doing any actual superheroing, but that's beside the point. To be honest, the movie probably does a better job than most of showing us that superheroes are just sort of... normal. And that's a good thing. I appreciate that, but even so, I can't help being disappointed that nothing really happens. And it's not even all that funny. So, whatever. I dunno. It's okay.