The Specials

An ultra-low-budget variation on Mystery Men, in which a ragtag group of unlikely superheroes is constantly fighting... each other.

Absent the huge sets, big-name cast, and special effects of the not-very-good Mystery Men, this film must rely on its two chief assets: costar James Gunn's original and witty (if overly vulgar) script, and a likable cast of unknowns (except for Rob Lowe and Jamie Kennedy, both good).

So what you get is an hour and a half of superheroes with really cool powers who instead spend all their time complaining about their jobs, their love lives, etc. That may look funny on paper, but watching it on a screen is a different matter. I found myself wanting to see some clever use of the group's powers. Some sort of visual energy. But Mazin's direction is flat and uninspired. Just because you don't have much money doesn't mean you have to bolt the camera to the floor! Also, Gunn falls into the trap that too many comedy writers get stuck in: he feels like he has to include romance, male bonding, and feel-good sentiment. This rarely works in satire, especially one with the cynical tone of The Specials.