The Specials,” much like the previous year's “Mystery Men,” would focus on comic book-style adventurers with less than conventional abilities. Director duties would fall on Craig Mazin. Released to little acclaim in 2000, the film would eventually attract a very small cult following.
The Specials are the seventh most popular superhero team in America. As that superlative implies, the team is not especially respected or well regarded. The characters' powers range from the useful, like leader the Strobe who can shoot energy blasts, to the unconventional, like shrinking hero Minute-Man. Yet fighting evil is not on the team's mind today. As newcomer Nightbird joins the team, a toy company has agreed to make an action figure line based on them. The Strobe's wife, Ms. Indestructible, is having an affair with the Weevil, the team's sole popular member. Villain-turned-hero Amok disagrees with every decisions that made while supposedly super-intelligent Mr. Smart doesn't seem that clever. All these fears and more will come to the surface as the day goes on.
reality show-style interviews being inserted without much rhyme or reason. There's no sense of pacing here, the movie listlessly wandering from barely-there plot points to not-quite-solid gag.
There's also evidence to suggest that James Gunn's script was not his best work. Yes, “The Specials” did make me laugh, from time to time. There's a good gag were the otherwise child-like Alien Orphan suddenly speaks clearly. The funniest moment comes when the Specials see the promo for the proposed toy line based on them, which leaves much to be desired. The dim-witted U.S. Bill provides a few chuckles, as does the Strobe's nonsensical rousing speeches or an unexpected dance number to Reunion's “Life is the Rock.” Yet there's a mean-spirited edge to the humor here. Such as Amok's foul mouth, Minute-Man's outfit being called “gay,” or Deadly Girl's needlessly mean reaction to another team attempting to recruit here.
While James Gunn has done quite a lot of riffing on superheroes throughout his career, maybe he shouldn't get the blame or credit for what does and does not work about “The Specials.” Director Craig Mazin has gone on to a successful career as a comedy screenwriter, co-writing commercial hits like “Identity Theft” or the latter two “Hangover” movies. As a director, his only other credit is “Superhero Movie,” another spoof of superhero flicks. That's a weirdly similar pair of movies, isn't it? While I want to like “The Specials,” it's just not nearly as funny, charming, or memorable as it needs to be. [5/10]