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Once Upon a Deadpool

Once Upon a Deadpool




- for intense sequences of violence and action, crude sexual content, language, thematic elements and brief drug material.
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Zazie Beetz, Karan Soni, Fred Savage
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: December 12, 2018

READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling cyborg, Cable. (from IMDb)


Film Review

In a truly unusual move, Fox has not only re-released the R-rated superhero pseudo-spoof action comedy Deadpool 2 to theaters, but they've edited the crass and ultra-violent film down to pass as PG-13--just in time for the Christmas season. If you're at all familiar with my reviews and my personal approach to watching movies, you'll know I don't typically watch R-rated films unless they've been toned down, whether by a filtering service or from some other editing process. Currently, the best options for such editing are services ClearPlay and VidAngel (with the latter being sadly limited by movie houses that have legally blocked them from offering filters for their movies), but I haven't seen either of the Deadpool offerings... well, until now. Dubbed Once Upon a Deadpool, this re-cut of Deadpool 2 repackages Deadpool 2 for a wider audience, but doesn't revisit the first film at all. This re-cut opens with Deadpool having kidnapped actor/director Fred Savage (playing himself) and tied him (sans pants) to a bed in a room reconstructed, with almost perfect attention to detail, to look identical to his bedroom in 1987's The Princess Bride. While the two bicker about Savage being held hostage, the "Merc with a Mouth" opens a storybook and proceeds to tell the story of Deadpool 2 in a more sanitized fashion. Just like in the film version of The Princess Bride, things cut back and forth between Savage with Deadpool and the story of Deadpool 2--and it works! However, it seems everyone involved with the film--including the titular character--truly believes "everyone" saw the first Deadpool film from 2016. And while Savage admits he did not, Once Upon a Deadpool continues to operate as if the viewer did. There's never a recap of any events from the first film, and you just kind of have to piece together things about the characters from information you're given along the way via Deadpool 2. While I'm sure there isn't a ton lost in translation because of this, I still expected some kind of super quick summary or callback to the first film for those of us who had decided to pass on it for... obvious, aforementioned reasons.

I've liked Ryan Reynolds in the handful of films I've seen him in, and I've seen enough of the Deadpool character to get the feeling that these movies are rather fun, but in this film, I actually found his character one that I had to warm up to. Reynolds plays the character more like if Jim Carrey had played Tony Stark in a film directed by Kevin Smith. He's obnoxious and over the top, with the only thing the character seems to value being his girlfriend, Vanessa. And while sometimes characters who treat everything as a joke can be endearing, Deadpool really just isn't. And even with the editing for this version, it's clear how irreverent and vulgar Deadpool is, and no amount of editing can hide every mouthed "F" word, even if the altered dialog and overdubs are present to compensate. (According to IMDb, the "F" word count of the original Deadpool 2 sits just under 100.) All full uses of the "F" word are cut out of Once Upon a Deadpool, but there's a moment later in the film where Deadpool encourages another character to use the infamous profanity and says "Fuh... fuh..." a couple times to coach the character in saying it. And when they finally do, it's bleeped out. In the Fred Savage cut scenes, early on, there's a sequence where Savage is flipping out about his abduction and starts swearing, so Deadpool bleeps him with a handheld bleep button. He then bleeps himself to illustrate what they cannot say in a PG-13 movie. Later, there's a hilarious bit where Savage is saying he wants to "fight" a celebrity, but Deadpool unnecessarily bleeps him so it sounds so much worse. It's crass, but it does turn out to be a pretty funny gag. (Jimmy Kimmel has actually done this regularly on his late show, where he takes innocent dialog from movies and such and bleeps normal words out to make a phrase sound bad when it isn't at all.)

Having not seen the first film, and first experiencing Deadpool as a character through the PG-13 version of the sequel, watching Once Upon a Deadpool through that viewpoint gave me the feeling I was on the outside of an inside joke. Again, it took a good chunk of the movie to kind of get a feel for the tone of how the whole story was going to unfold, but it eventually got me on board before the end, even if it didn't totally win me over. I love Disney's animated film The Emperor's New Groove, and I could almost draw similarities between Kuzco and Deadpool... that is, if Kuzco cursed like a sailor and was a mutant anti-hero in an X-Men inspired plot. Deadpool's story is surrounded and influenced by more serious material, with him cracking jokes and making fun of everyone and everything along the way -- and breaking the fourth wall more than once, including signing a cereal box for a kid as "Ryan Reynolds" at one point. Cable is one of the most serious characters, being a man from the future who comes back to our present to kill a kid who would later grow up to be the man who kills his family. This kid, named Russell, is an overweight New Zealander who has a bad temper and can throw fire, and we soon find out he was abused at an orphanage (Deadpool even refers to those working at the orphanage as "pedophiles," hinting that even darker sins were being committed by these men. Deadpool also starts to merge a bit with the X-Men, with his main link to them being the all-metal giant, Colossus, who believes Deadpool could be a heroic asset. Then you have two random, lower tier X-Men, named Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio who don't really do anything in the movie (well, until the end for all of about 7 seconds), but show up to nonsensically further push on moviegoers a popular Hollywood agenda that they're lesbians and are proud of it (Everything from cocky remarks to them holding hands, and them drinking out of "I'm with her" mugs that blatantly and clearly point to the other). Toss in the fact that Deadpool wants to die so badly at a couple points in the film, that he tries--unsuccessfully--to kill himself through various, ultra violent ways (including blowing himself to, quite literally, pieces), and you have a loaded mash of heavy and real themes and topics that Deadpool tries to make light of, but really serve as some pretty weighty content. It's an odd tonal construct that sometimes work, but definitely not always.

So, what's left in the PG-13 edit of the otherwise super vulgar and violent Deadpool 2? For the most part, it really does play out as one of those "hard PG-13" cuts. A handful of "S" words are still present, while quite a few uses of blasphemy (and blaspheming moments) also remain. There is no nudity in the film, but one of the weirdest scenes has to be when Deadpool's lower half is regenerating (just... take my word for it), and he's sitting on a couch with no pants or underwear on. Several people walk in--one after the other--and express their shock over the sight. We keep seeing him sitting there casually, but his nudity is either covered up by shadows (for this version, apparently), or by the kind of pixelated blurring often used for TV. It's entirely played for laughs, but it's just so bizarre that it's tough to know what to make of it. There is plenty of violence in the film, despite most of the graphic content is omitted through cutaways, but you still get the gist for what's going on. Because Deadpool regenerates and heals himself (and can't die), he's frequently getting hurt, with bloody results. In one scene, he puts his hand over a gun that fires a hole through the back of his hand. It's not shown in graphic detail in this version, but we do see the wound in several scenes later (but it's not focused on). At one point, a metal rod impales his masked head, and we see it sticking through the other side. When it's pulled out, we see slightly bloody holes on either side of his head for the rest of the film. In the scene where he's blown to bits, we see piece of his body fly at the screen, with the limbs (still in his suit) torn at the ends and a little blood along with them. Another scene involves a character literally being torn in half, and we see the frame cropped so their clothed torso is ripped with some blood on it and on the ground. As far as sexual content, it's mostly just some passionate kissing between Wade (out of his Deadpool suit) and Vanessa, and some crude comments made here and there throughout. During the after credits scene where Deadpool helps Fred Savage out of the bed he's tied to, he learns that he's been kidnapped for three days and has trouble walking, so we see his blurred out and pixelated bare butt, since he's not wearing pants. You really don't see anything explicit, but you get the idea.

For years, I've found myself enjoying nearly every Marvel film I've seen, to some degree. They certainly began with sincere growing pains (HULK, Daredevil, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), but really hit their stride once the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) launched. Twentieth Century Fox has long been producing X-Men related films--like this one--and I had been somewhat disappointed when I found that the Deadpool series and Logan were given the much more graphic and explicit treatments. Once Upon a Deadpool is a unique experiment that is quite entertaining, but definitely proves one thing for this moviegoing enthusiast: some movies just really aren't meant to be for everyone.

Side note: There are a lot of mid-credits scenes, and then a post-credits scene wrapping up the Fred Savage storyline. It's then immediately followed by a touching homage to Stan Lee, complete with bloopers for his cameo in Deadpool 2.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 12/20/18)

 

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: Deadpool frequently makes crass jokes throughout the film. Vanessa tells Deadpool to kiss her in a couple scenes, and she leaps into his arms, wrapping her legs around him and they make out passionately (clothed). They also talk openly about conceiving and having a child together; Russell makes reference to his "prison wallet" which disgusts Deadpool (because Russell clearly hid a pen in his butt at some point); Two mutant girls at the X-Men ranch are seen holding hands and they draw attention to it, scoffing to Wade that they're together. He then comments something like "Whoa, pump the breaks Fox & Friends!" and expresses his support for same-sex relationships. We then see the two girls sitting next to each other and one is clearly drinking from a mug that says "I'm with her"; Wade hugs Colossus and puts his hands on his metal butt. Colossus moves his hands off of there, but Wade moves them back; There's a lot of talk about kids being abused at an orphanage, and Wade refers to them as pedophiles a couple times, but we don't see anything relating to these acts (beyond some physical abuse, like burning Russell's neck with a rod); Fred Savage was taken hostage by Deadpool and taped to a bed, apparently with no pants on under the sheets. In an after-credits scene, we see Deadpool untie him, but Fred can't walk. We then see Deadpool helping him out of the room, with Fred's bare butt exposed, but pixelated so no nudity is visible; In one sequence, when Deadpool's lower half is regenerating and he just has toddler legs, he's sitting on a couch with no pants. Several people walk in--one after the other--and express their shock over the sight. We keep seeing him sitting there casually, but his nudity is either covered up by shadows (for this version, apparently), or by the kind of pixelated blurring often used for TV. (And some other comments and innuendo)
. Vulgarity/Language: Roughly estimated: 1 incomplete "F" word, and many, many bleeped out "F" words as well as mouthed "F" words that have been overdubbed with "softer" wording. There's also a sequence where a character uses an innocent word that is bleeped out to sound like he's swearing when he isn't. There are also about three different instances where characters flip the middle finger to other characters (one of those is shown as a drawing in the closing credits). 11 "S" words, 3 "g*dd*mn," 4 "J-sus Chr-st," 1 "J-sus," 1 "d*ck," 3 "d*mn," 4 "h*ll," 5 "G-d," 3 "b*tch," 2 "S.O.B" (and one incomplete), 2 *ssh*le," 2 "a" words," 1 "cr*p," 2 "p*ssing"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Some characters are seen drinking, while there are references to drugs, including that Deadpool does drugs (like cocaine. We see him go to a house and get some in bags out of a hole in the floor)
. Blood/Gore: We see some blood on a person's clothing on their chest after they are shot and killed (it's a very emotional scene); Deadpool tries various ways to kill himself, including blowing himself up. We then see pieces of his suit-covered body and limbs fly at the screen with some bloody results; A man who can shoot acid vomit out of his mouth lands his parachute in a chipper shredder. It starts pulling him in, so a normal human goes to try to help pull him out. The man then vomits acid onto the both of them, causing the human to lose an arm. The scene is cut very quickly and choppy, so it's only graphic for a split second, but both characters die; An alien character explodes into a spray of green blood when he parachutes into helicopter blades (we mostly just see green liquid spray on the helicopter windows); Wade sees a burn mark on Russell's neck and asks if the guys at the orphanage had hurt him. Russell nods slightly. Later, we see a flashback of the Headmaster there shocking Russell with a rod to his neck, leaving the burn mark; At one point during a car chase, Deadpool puts his hand over a gun that fires and it blows through his hand (the blood was cut out, but we see the hole in his glove and the wound a little bit in the latter half of the film); Deadpool gets a metal arrow stuck through his head. Cable pulls it out and we see blood spots on either side of his head through the rest of the movie; A man hits a bad guy with his car, gets out and has some bloody scrapes and such on his face; Cable's left arm is just a metal arm, and we see him without his shirt in a scene, where the skin meets up with the robotic arm.
. Violence: Lots of exaggerated action/comic book violence. In the opening scene, we see a guy running through a factory of sorts, with Deadpool killing a lot of guys along the way--including with a chainsaw--all shown in slow motion. It's not graphic, though; Wade fights some thugs when they break into his apartment, and he kills some of them. One character then fires a gun in slow motion as Wade throws a cheese spreader at the guy, but it doesn't stop him. We see the bullet slowly move across the room and hit a person, killing them. A few minutes later, Wade jumps through the window and chases a man down the street. He catches up to him, hugs him, and the two are struck by a bus (the man presumably dies, while Wade cannot). The next scenes are a montage of Deadpool trying to commit suicide, but coming back to life each time (including shooting himself in the head and jumping from great heights). In one instance, he blows himself up literally to pieces; When we meet Russell, police are surrounding him as he shoots fire from his hands and won't stand down in front of an orphanage. Deadpool tries to talk him down, and when he realizes the boy was abused, he shoots an orderly in the head (we don't see the direct impact); Wade sees a burn mark on Russell's neck and asks if the guys at the orphanage had hurt him. Russell nods slightly. Later, we see a flashback of the Headmaster there shocking Russell with a rod to his neck, leaving the burn mark; Cable attacks a prison and Wade thinks he's coming for him. There's a fight within the prison with lots of destruction; An invisible character on a parachute hits a powerline and we briefly see a man getting shocked; A man who can shoot acid vomit out of his mouth lands his parachute in a chipper shredder. It starts pulling him in, so a normal human goes to try to help pull him out. The man then vomits acid onto the both of them, causing the human to lose an arm. The scene is cut very quickly and choppy, so it's only graphic for a split second, but both characters die; An alien character explodes into a spray of green blood when he parachutes into helicopter blades (we mostly just see green liquid spray on the helicopter windows); There's a car chase through the city with Cable fighting Domino and Deadpool. At one point, Deadpool puts his hand over a gun that fires and it blows through his hand (the blood was cut out, but we see the hole in his glove and the wound a little bit in the latter half of the film); There's quite a bit of destruction; A mutant rips Deadpool literally in half and we see his legs laying on the ground, as well as his torn off torso; Deadpool gets a metal arrow stuck through his head. Cable pulls it out; A mutant is electrocuted in a pool when a pair of mutants apparently shove a rod up his rear and then shock him (not shown in detail); A character takes a bullet for someone else and dies a long and comedically dramatic death; We see this again but the character doesn't die this time; A man hits a bad guy with his car, gets out and has some bloody scrapes and such on his face. During the end credits scenes, Deadpool goes back in time and kills the guy who shot Vanessa, saving her. He then goes back in time to X-Men: Origins where Wolverine meets Deadpool and he shoots that Deadpool, killing him. He then goes back to when Ryan Reynolds receives the script for Green Lantern and we see a bullet appear in the script and then we see that he's shot Ryan in the head. -- And other comic book related action violence.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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