Part of the fun of attending film festivals is getting the inside scoop, sometimes years before everyone else sees a movie. Sometimes that's a curse, like when I saw "Chapter 27” at Sundance last year and would rather gouge my eyes out with a spork than see it again when it opens next month; other times, however, you fall in love with a weird, wonderful film like "Special."
Now, after more than two years missing-in-action, Michael Rapaport has revealed to me that his low-budget, "Superman"-meets-"Jackass" film is finally coming to a theater near you.
"We've had a couple of distribution hiccups, but we're finally ready to go with Magnolia Films; it looks like it's gonna be in June," revealed the "True Romance" veteran. "It's been a long ride, as far as getting the movie out in theaters ... but I'm awfully proud of 'Special,' and I'm looking forward to people seeing it."
Magnolia confirmed to me that they have acquired the film, and that it will be released "later this year."
Believe me when I tell you that whether you love it or not, "Special" is a flick you won't soon be able to get out of your head. Rapaport plays a pathetic Los Angeles meter maid by day and comic geek by night, who signs up for an experimental drug trial, and then begins taking on super powers as a side effect of the pills. But as he's running through walls, flying and jumping off buildings, one question emerges: Is it all in his head?
"I didn't have to mess myself up that badly, I had an incredible stuntman," the actor remembered of Johnny Knoxville-like scenes that have his character jumping off house roofs and onto criminals. "He took it to, like, an artistic form."
During the darkest days of the "Special" struggle to make it from Sundance to the big screen, rumors swirled that the script was so good that writer/directors Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore might re-shoot the whole flick with a bigger budget and household-name actors. "I heard that rumor too; I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, or if the movie would have been better if there was a different actor," Rapaport laughed. "It was such a crazy concept to me, because the movie was so personal for me. The idea of taking it away and doing something else with it is pretty foreign."
Having seen the film, I can't imagine anybody else in the role. Typically cast as an intelligence-challenged heavy, Rapaport gives a hilarious, hardened, truly nuanced performance that eventually finds him groveling on a bathroom floor in superhero tights, blood and spit pouring down his face. The actor may not be an A-lister, but it would have been a shame if the movie was re-shot just to make it more commercial.
Now, the tide has shifted so dramatically that "Special" might even get a sequel.
"I know they've discussed doing a part two of it, and whether or not I'll be a part of that, I have no idea," Rapaport added. "I'm just looking forward to part one coming out."
Assuring me that "'Special' hasn't changed much," in the 26 months since I saw it, Rapaport expressed hope that the flick (which co-stars Josh Peck) is going to find its fanbase in those who like superhero flicks, indie films, and the exploits of the "Jackass" gang. Until the flick arrives, you can check out its trailer here.
"People are gonna be happy when they finally see the movie," Rapaport grinned. "I know I will be."