Down 9,466 this week

Special When Lit (2009)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 402 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 3 critic

What made more money than the entire American movie industry through the 50s and 60s? Pinball. Special When Lit rediscovers the lure of a lost pop icon. A product of the mechanical and ... See full summary »


0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 37 titles
created 06 May 2012
a list of 31 titles
created 17 Nov 2012
a list of 48 titles
created 29 Nov 2012
a list of 31 titles
created 23 Dec 2012
a list of 32 titles
created 19 Jun 2013

Related Items

Search for "Special When Lit" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Special When Lit (2009)

Special When Lit (2009) on IMDb 6.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Special When Lit.


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

'From Bedrooms to Billions' is a 2 and a half hour feature length documentary movie telling the remarkable, true story of the British Video Games Industry from 1979 to the present day. ... See full summary »

Directors: Anthony Caulfield, Nicola Caulfield
Stars: Shahid Ahmad, Nigel Alderton, Nick Alexander

In this all-encompassing documentary on Nintendo, gaming enthusiast Jay Bartlett hits the open road with best friend Rob McCallum in hopes of buying the 678 official retail-licensed ... See full summary »

Director: Robert McCallum
Stars: David Eddings, Billy Mitchell, Rachel Lara
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A documentary on classic video arcade collectors across North America. Those who were the first to look into the neon haze of a vector/raster screen and fall in love. The first quarter poppers, the "vidiots" who never grew up.

Director: Dave Danzara
Stars: Bryan Armitage, Nathan Barnatt, Chris Connally
Gamer Age (2014)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An anthropological look into the rich culture of video games.

Director: Ian Santer
Stars: Brent Bushnell, Nolan Bushnell, Joe Ciaramelli
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The first year in the life of independent game studio "Mojang" following the landmark success of their debut title, "Minecraft."

Director: Paul Owens
Stars: Jens Bergensten, Jonathan Blow, Lewis Brindley
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.

Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Alpiger
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

1982's Video Game World Champions share their philosophies on joysticks, groupies and life.

Director: Lincoln Ruchti
Stars: Ronald Bailey, Sam Blackburn, Leo Daniels
Good Game (2014)
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Nine men pursue careers in competitive video games as members of the Evil Geniuses Starcraft 2 Division.

Director: Mary Ratliff
Stars: Rachel Alvis, Benjamin Baker, Bryce Bates

The Garbage Pail Kids are 30 years old. Celebrate their gross-out greatness with artist interviews, superfan collections, and more.

Director: Sean Tiedeman
Stars: Andrew Leitzel, Art Spiegelman, Buffmonster
Tilt (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Tilt is the story of a young girl, who is a pinball machine wizard. Because she does not get on with her parents, Tilt is contemplating running away from home, and skipping school one day ... See full summary »

Director: Rudy Durand
Stars: Brooke Shields, Ken Marshall, Charles Durning
Tilt (TV Series 2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Stars: Michael Madsen, Chris Bauer, Kristin Lehman
Frag (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Below the surface of a simple game is an underbelly of corruption, money, partying, drugs, and even death.

Director: Mike Pasley
Stars: Michal Blicharz, Rafik Bryant, Sassan Dibadj


Credited cast:
Roger Sharpe ...
Rick Stetta ...
Sam Harvey ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tim Arnold ...
John Broughton ...
Steve Epstein ...
Josh Pingeek Kaplan ...
Pat Lawlor ...
Lyman Sheats ...
Gary Stern ...


What made more money than the entire American movie industry through the 50s and 60s? Pinball. Special When Lit rediscovers the lure of a lost pop icon. A product of the mechanical and electrical age, the American invention swept the world and defined cool. Now it is relegated to a nostalgic footnote deserving a better fate. Joining the fans, collectors, designers and champion players from across the globe who share a world many of us didn't know still existed. Written by BSullivan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pinball | icon | flipper | See All (3) »


Rediscover a lost icon








Release Date:

17 April 2010 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$150,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


When Sam Harvey is interviewed, his location is given as "California" and he mentions he bought his house in 1976. On his fridge, among other things, are 2 magnets showing WMJI Majic 105.7 FM, an oldies station from Cleveland, Ohio. See more »


References Tales from the Crypt (1989) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Not perfect, but worth watching
6 November 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I haven't reviewed many films here, doesn't seem like there's much point to it if a movie has already been reviewed by dozens of other people. But as I write this, there are only two reviews for this film - one glowing, and one somewhat negative. Allow me to split the difference. If you are a really die-hard pinball fan, you'll probably find fault with it, while if you have no interest at all in the game, it may not hold your attention. But while not perfect, this doc is worth seeing, especially if you have a passing interest in the subject matter.

The good: First of all, some great art direction, animation, and graphics, especially the opening credits. I find the art of pinball pretty interesting, and I could have used a lot more of that. There's a decent, though shallow, overview of the history of pinball and the rise and fall of the industry, but I wish these parts had been longer. Some good interviews, as well, and a too-brief visit to the only remaining pinball manufacturer.

The bad: Too many interviews with pinball collectors and obsessives, who come across as either charming eccentrics, or slightly off-putting nut jobs, depending on the interview. If you've ever been around any sort of obsessive collector types, be they collectors of records, comic books, movie memorabilia, sports stuff, whatever, you'll know the type

  • they are all remarkably similar even if their chosen obsessions are

completely different. You'll recognize the similar fashion, personal hygiene, and physical fitness issues that these kind of guys (and they're almost always guys) share. Maybe the people who made this movie have only been around normal people before, so they found this fascinating, but it really isn't if you've ever dealt with hard-core collectors (of anything) before.

You also get an over-long descent in the world of championship pinball, which is unfortunate, because watching other people play pinball is not very interesting no matter how good they are. You can only laugh at somebody's outlandish body English while playing pinball once or twice, but the filmmakers try to use this same joke endlessly. They briefly ask one of the champion players to share some pointers, which is pretty cool, but for the most part the shots of the championship action are not from angles where you can actually see what the players are doing. Instead you just see out of shape middle-aged dudes jumping around in front of the games.

I wish more time had been spent on the history of pinball, and talking with the designers and artists who actually made the games, rather than with the players and collectors. Unfortunately, the ratios of what I would have preferred to see, and what the filmmakers chose to spend the most time on, are largely reversed.

Still, some interesting insights are scattered through the film. I think it is fascinating how societal changes can make something like pinball almost universally popular and ubiquitous, and then a few decades later it fades from the culture. One interviewee notes that in the heyday of pinball, people ate dinner at home and went out for their entertainment. Now people eat out much more frequently, but their entertainment needs tend to be met at home. Hadn't really thought about it like that. In another interview, it is mentioned how the frivolous wasting of time to develop "highly-refined skills which were useless in real life" was considered "downwardly mobile and rebellious." Interesting. Unfortunately for pinball, this doc won't do much to bolster the idea of pinball still being a rebellious and youthful pastime. The doc ends with a lament that pinball is not long for this earth. The interview near the end with the owner of a now-closed NYC arcade is poignant and touching.

In conclusion, even though the filmmakers spend too much time on the wrong subject matter, there is enough of interest in this documentary to make it worth checking out.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Disappointingly not very engaging or informative phillipo-106-184702
One thing that wasn't touched on... ripplinbuckethead
Discuss Special When Lit (2009) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page