Adventure/Action, 108 Minutes, 2016
Let’s get right to it: Deadpool is great fun. It’s earned $500 million worldwide (on its $38 million budget) in its first two weeks of release, so chances are good that you’ve already seen it and decided it was great fun. Sure, there are always curmudgeons, contrarians and those who thought that they were taking their eight year-olds to see “Spiderman”, but the world, as a consensus, is in sweaty-monkey-love with Deadpool.
For the few that don’t know, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds [IMDB]), is former special forces commando turned urban mercenary. Having found love between the thighs of a former prostitute, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin [IMDB]), he waits for the universe to ruin it. The universe obliges and gives him advanced, inoperable cancer. In a desperate gambit, he sells himself to a shady research group who promise to heal him and awaken latent super powers. They come through (because otherwise: very short film), but also try to turn him into a slave. He escapes and swears revenge.
The character is extravagantly crass, vulgar and violent; a fact that some parents seem to have missed during the massive media blitz that informed us that the character is extravagantly crass, vulgar and violent. He’s also clearly insane and this results in rampant fourth wall breaks, pop-culture references, and direct-to-the-audience narration. You can reasonably dismiss criticisms along these lines: the movie delivered exactly what it promised. Like it or lump it.
It’s great fun, but this is not the best movie ever.
It’s a very good movie and, if your tastes run to the gutter a bit, a tremendously fun time. It’s also a very easy movie. The superhero genre has become overwrought and ripe for satire. It’s low-hanging fruit. Marvel successfully dipped its toes in the water with Guardians of the Galaxy [My Review] and Ant-Man [My Review]. Deadpool strips naked, waggles his junk in your face, then dives right in.
The gags are solid, and while a few (such as the opening credit sequence) are absolutely inspired, most are simplistic, sophomoric and forgettable – but still funny. The action is solid and the “R” rating is put to graphic, bloody use. This stands out only compared to the forced sanitization of the seemingly magical PG-13 rating, not from any real novelty or inherent quality. Those who lived through the 80’s – when action was always “R” – will feel right at home.
Deadpool is far from the first “adult” comic book movie, and its success clearly means that it won’t be the last. We’ll undoubtedly be treated to any number of copycat attempts to mimic its success in the coming years. This, more than anything else, will likely be its legacy.