Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors — oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called City Fathers who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards and talk about 'What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?'"
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Four and a half Bea Arthurs out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Newly mutated wiseass seeks revenge on the guy who cured his cancer.
Tagline: "Witness the beginning of a happy ending."
Better Tagline: "Leave Gina Carano alone!"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is enjoying a series of uncharacteristic good luck — doing dirty deeds not so cheap and wooing his newly beloved, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) — when the other shoe drops and he learns cancer is ravaging just about every part of his body. In desperation, he turns to a shadowy group led by the mutant "Ajax" — real name Francis (Ed Skrein) — that creates superheroes by inducing latent mutations. The treatment cures Wilson's cancer, but not before he discovers Francis is actually creating super slaves. Wilson escapes and, fearful of revealing his horrible new visage to Vanessa, adopts the moniker "Deadpool" and systematically works his way through Francis's minions. He's occasionally assisted in the endeavor by X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and...Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).
"Critical" Analysis: It's been a long, uneven road to theaters for Deadpool. Marvel's most obnoxious mutant not named "Gambit" has long been a cult favorite, yet left out of the comic book movie bonanza afforded to the X-Men (Fox owns rights to both). This is largely thanks to the title's copious profanity, decidedly non-funny book violence and an obsession with a certain Golden Girl. Seven years in the making (following an ignominious debut in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the Merc With a Mouth finally has his own movie.
Explaining Deadpool to someone not familiar with the comics is nigh impossible, but what the hell. He started as a Rob Liefeld ripoff of a DC character named "Deathstroke" (alter ego: "Slade Wilson," yeah) who evolved into a sort of mockery of the overly angst-filled comics of the 1990s. Deadpool is aware that he's a character in a comic book and shares this knowledge with frequent asides to readers. He has an accelerated healing factor (like Wolverine!) and is also insane.
I point all that out because most of that applies to Deadpool the movie (except maybe the insanity). In addition to the voice-overs, this version also breaks the fourth wall to share jokes with the audience. If you're the kind of person who thinks that sounds off-putting or who gets hives at the thought of excessive Ryan Reynolds, then let me go ahead and say you're probably not going to like the rest of the movie.
For everyone else, you're in for a treat. Deadpool is raunchy and hyperviolent and (mostly) refuses to take itself seriously. "Mostly" because there's some heartfelt and largely unconvincing hand-wringing over Wade and Vanessa's post-lumpy relationship. Otherwise, the movie is a refreshingly perverse palate cleanser in a world where comic book flicks are increasingly ponderous and repetitive (exhibit N: the latest trailer for Batman v Superman: Rise of the Chins).
That everything works so well is in large part due to Reynolds. He is Wade Wilson, and whether because of serendipity or typecasting or dumb luck, he's been playing some variation of the derisive asshole character since National Lampoon's Van Wilder in 2002. He captures the relentless sarcasm perfectly, almost enough to forgive Green Lantern (which is nonetheless apologized for on several occasions).
It also doesn't hurt that Deadpool is desperately (and deliberately) low budget. This is the most intimate Marvel product, perhaps not coincidentally, since the first X-Men. The movie clocks in at a lean 100 minutes, with several scenes having to be cut thanks to Fox bean counters. And director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make it work, making the budget cuts part of the running gag (Deadpool constantly forgets his guns, and mocks Colossus and NTW for being the only X-Men available at any given time in Xavier's cavernous mansion).
But Deadpool also thrives on mutually assured degradation, as everyone from Ajax/Francis (finally, a role that capitalizes on Skrein's natural unctuousness), Negasonic, Wilson's friend/cowardly confidante Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Wilson's eventual roommate, Blind Al, give as good as they get. Al is played to perfection by Leslie Uggams, and I'm kind of ashamed to admit I at first thought she was Nichelle Nichols. What I'm not ashamed to say is that I laughed my ass off on several occasions, and repeated viewings are recommended to catch the dialogue missed during certain scenes (hint: "Happy International Women's Day"). Understand: There's no looming threat to mankind, no multi-tiered plot linking two dozen movies, and no Infinity McGauntlet, just 100 or so minutes of arterial spray and dick jokes. Manage expectations accordingly.
I've said many times I fear Marvel properties peaked in 2014 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3), but as long as the various studios can keep switching things up as they have with Deadpool, and can tap into an audience ready for more unconventional superhero takes, their Scrooge McDuck-size money vaults should remain stuffed with your hard-earned cash.
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