movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] A very select group of people in life are truly gifted. Special is a movie about everyone else.

PLOT SUMMARY: A male meter-maid takes an experimental anti-depressant, which leads him to believe he has developed super-powers. This causes things to get much worse for him: As the pharmaceutical company tries to suppress his results, he descends into what can only be described as insanity.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a man named Les,
who got into a mental mess.
He tried an experimental drug;
His results were swept under the rug.
Putting him in situations of great duress.

HAIKU REVIEW: Pharmaceuticals
affect people differently.
This guy got powers!

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Drug research leads to savage beating of mentally disabled simpleton, murders.

PEOPLE: Starring Michael Rapaport (Prison Break, The War At Home, Boston Public, True Romance, Beautiful Girls, Next Friday, the movie Push, Assassination Of A High School President), who actually did an amazing job playing a character that draws much sympathy from the viewer. With Paul Blackthorne (24), Robert Baker (The Ladykillers), Josh Peck (Spun), Jack Kehler (The Big Lebowski, Pineapple Express, Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story, Waterworld, Austin Powers, Murder One) as Dr. Dobson, Alexandra Holden (The Hot Chick, the movie Wasted) as the cashier, and Christopher Darga (Dude, Where’s My Car?, Bruce Almighty, Deep Impact, Fatal Instinct, The Mask, The Hudsucker Proxy) as the boss.

QUIRKS: Mentally affected individuals. Experimental pharmaceuticals. Corporate conspiracies. Superpowers. Hallucinations. Surrealism. Ambiguity. Pity. You spend a lot of this movie thinking, “Damn. This is MESSED UP!!!” And then it gets more messed up. It’s definitely a protaganist pity party.

This movie has aspects of thriller, suspense, drama, super hero, conspiracy, fantasy, and black comedy — all wrapped together.

By the way — that feeling he has as he tries to fly? That’s a feeling I have all the time, thanks to my experiences with flight in dreams. Typically, I don’t know I’m dreaming, and I just have to “remember to forget that I can’t fly”, and then I can fly. Watching him fly REALLY reminded me of my dreams.

This also features the electricity/shocking game that I own!

VISUALS: Shot in grainy, shaky film, which actually makes perfect sense for a movie about someone losing their grip on reality. Ultra-crisp HD might not have made as much sense. There are a few very minor special effects to show his craziness, such as when he thinks he can walk through walls. It’s done quite well — especially for a $1M budget.

MORALS: Sometimes it’s hard to accept reality, when not accepting reality can mean being more special than you really are.

POLITICS: Corporations will gladly destroy a life (or lives) for profit; it’s what they do when faced with the choice. They do what is best for the corporation, which is bigger, more important, and has more will (and less morals) than any one single individual. I firmly believe the events in this movie could happen in real life.

This film was actually a very scathing indictment of the pharmaceutical industry.

BAD STUFF: Slightly slow at the beginning, but then it picked up into non-stop painful craziness. There was even some action. And completely touching moments. I was hoping there was a reason that cashier didn’t talk to him.

CONCLUSION: A surprisingly touching film about one man’s descent into insanity, thanks to anti-depressants. It’s almost comical, since he thinks he has super powers. But then it’s not. Some people said they laughed a lot at this. But it’s NOT a comedy. It’s actually sort of a tragedy of sorts. Genre aside, this was a pretty powerful story. Watching the depths the main character sink to can be painful at times. The ending makes it that much more touching. The ambiguity of the end is also kind of interesting.

Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8.5/10 (rounded up to 9).
Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8.5/10 (rounded up to 9).
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.2/5 stars (3.7 for people who rate like me), IMDB 7.0/10.

RECOMMENDATION: This is an easy movie to overlook, as it did not receive much attention! I actually think it’s one of the better dramas (if you can call it that) that I’ve seen in a long time! A unique story that draws out lots of emotion.

SIMILAR MOVIES: This has smatterings of the feelings of watching broken psyches go too far that you get from watching Requiem For A Dream, as well as reminding me of A Beautiful Mind, where a man has to learn to function despite his failure to properly recognize reality. And the movie Hancock has a reckless, alcoholic superhero who doesn’t really know what he’s doing — which is a kind of the same dark urban hero aspect that inhabits this movie.

MOVIE QUOTE: I’d use the final quote, but it’s a bit spoily, so:

Les: “I once read about a monster called the Extracator, that lived off people’s souls. Only, the thing was, the Extracator ate a person’s soul in their sleep over a 16 year period. Like it would nibble off a crumb every night, until there wasn’t anything left. So a person had no way to realize what was going on. They just had this vague sense that something was slowly disappearing.”

This quote can kind of also explain how psychiatric medicine can eat away at who you are, bit by bit, without you realizing that you’ve lost part of yourself. This concept is also explored by the NoMeansNo side-project Hanson Brothers, in their song “Tranquil” (“I’m tranquil, with my little pink pill”). Hopefully this youtube video of them performing that song live lasts awhile:

THOUGHTS FROM MOM: Dad and I both liked it a lot, although it’s hard to classify as a genre.  Somebody described it as a “comedy”, but I disagree–although there are definitely comedic elements.  Having said that, I thought the “telepathic” scene between Les and the doctor was downright hilarious.

I also thought Rapaport’s character was purposely called “Les”–as in “less.”  He felt like nothing, like a big zero, and his name reflected that.   In actuality, of course, his humanity made him very special.   Even the “suits” realized that in the end: He was indestructible and REAL,  his lack of comic-book powers aside.
Obviously, there was also an anti-pharmacutical theme in the movie, but it wasn’t a polemic.  Polemics can be good but they’re very rarely great.
Also, wasn’t it interesting that the girl Les was attracted to was also “handicapped” by insecurity?  She wasn’t what she appeared to be–and either was he.  In the end, I think he recognized his own “specialness”, although that makes the movie sound a lot more prosaic than it was.

Mood: hungry
Music: NoMeansNo – Long Days