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Something Special
VHS cover with the second title of "Something Special"
Directed by Paul Schneider
Written by Walter Carbone, Carla Reuben
Story by Alan Friedman
Based on Willy Milly
by Alan Friedman
Music by Dominique Chapuis
Cinematography David McHugh
Edited by Michael R. Miller
Distributed by Imageworks / CRC Production
Release date
  • November 14, 1986 (1986-11-14)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $235,262[1]

Something Special (also known as "Willy/Milly" and I Was a Teenage Boy)[2] is a 1986 comedic fantasy film directed by Paul Schneider, based upon a story by the same name by Alan H. Friedman. The film follows the title character of Milly Niceman, a young tomboy who is unhappy with the traditional expectations for her gender and longs to become a boy so she can act however she wants. Initially released as I Was a Teenage Boy in 1986, the film was later re-titled to Something Special for a 1987 limited theatrical release and for a VHS release.[3][4]


Milly (Pamela Adlon) is a fourteen-year-old girl who has grown frustrated with her mother's attempts to curtail her tomboyish nature. Her mother Doris (Patty Duke) believes that Milly's actions are inappropriate for a girl and that she'd be better off showing more interest in dances and dresses. When her best friend's younger brother Malcolm (Seth Green) tells her about a witch's spell that will grant her deepest wish, Milly jumps at the chance. She visits the witch and manages to perform the spell properly, but believes that the spell failed. The next day Milly discovers that not only was the spell successful, but it has turned her into a hermaphrodite. She tells her family about what happened and to her surprise her father encourages her to explore her new masculinity. As a result Milly changes her name to "Willy" and begins attending a new school as a transfer student. Milly initially takes well to her new persona and gender, but eventually becomes conflicted when she begins to realize that life isn't necessarily easier as a boy and that she has feelings for her friend Alfie (Eric Gurry), who is equally confused about his feelings for "Willy". By the film's end Milly decides to become female once more.


  • Pamela Adlon as Milly / Willy Niceman (as Pamela Segall)
  • Eric Gurry as Alfie
  • Mary Tanner Bailey as Stephanie (as Mary Tanner)
  • John Glover as Fred Niceman
  • Patty Duke as Doris Niceman
  • Seth Green as Malcolm
  • JD Cullum as Tom
  • Corey Parker as Lopez
  • Jeb Ellis-Brown as Harry
  • Taryn Grimes as Cynthia
  • Diane Bogino as Doctor #1
  • Milton Chaikin as Doctor #2
  • Bobby Emmrich as Luke
  • Mike McGehee as Smiley
  • Robin Jackson as Witch


Critical reception for Willy/Milly was mixed to negative and the Providence Journal commented that the film could have worked it if had been "played for hilarious farce a la Tootsie, or as an examination of the psychological traumas that [Milly]/Willy undergoes".[5] The Sun-Sentinel panned the film as "so shallow, boring and half-baked that one wonders if anyone looked at the finished product before distribution".[6] The Daily News of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Times both gave mixed reviews for the Willy/Milly, with the Los Angeles Times remarking that while the film "doesn't really function well as a comedy" it did have some appeal.[3][7]

Jack Halberstam remarked upon the movie in the book Female Masculinity, where he commented that it was "troubling in the way that it resolves the problem of intersexuality or transsexuality by abjecting gender ambiguity."[8]


  1. ^ "Willy/Milly (1986) - Financial Information". 
  2. ^ "Rancid attitudes give shape to the fantasy in `Special'". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. November 21, 1986. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b WILMINGTON, MICHAEL (April 6, 1987). "'Something'--almost Something Special". LA Times. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "I Was a Teenage Boy (1986)". NY Times. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  5. ^ JANUSONIS, MICHAEL (Jul 22, 1986). "Boy, oh boy Milly goes Willy in fantasy film that's too silly". Providence Journal. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Hurlburt, Roger (May 2, 1986). "Comedy `Willy/milly` Really Silly". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "'SOMETHING SPECIAL': PREDICTABLE BUT CUTE". Daily News of Los Angeles. April 8, 1987. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Halberstam, Judith/Jack (1998). Female Masculinity. Duke University Press. pp. 192–193. ISBN 0822322439. 

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