“Deadpool” is the biggest movie in America right now, and it’s not even a fair fight.
It now holds the record for highest opening for an R-rated movie of all time. Oh, “Deadpool” is rated R? “Deadpool” is a superhero movie? You don’t say. “Deadpool” is one of the most hyped movies of the year that happened to come out during February, where movies tend to go to die.
Hey, it turns out this one isn’t so bad. But, is it great?
For the past few days a lot of people have asked me if they should see “Deadpool.” When answering the daunting question of “how was it?” my answer has been, “it’s fun enough.” “Deadpool” does just enough to be a good movie. It tries really hard, and I appreciate that. As somebody who tries really hard but doesn’t always get the best results, I respect and appreciate effort. Hell, give “Deadpool” the Superhero Movie Participation Ribbon it deserves!
One thing you can’t call “Deadpool” is empty. There is a surprising amount to unpack here. There is bad, and there is good.
This is a funny superhero movie where a lot of the jokes don’t land.
All superhero movies should be funny. Yes, I take them seriously, but they should have the decency to laugh at the fact that they seriously follow around men (or women) fighting crime in tights. Some of the jokes work, and it helps that Ryan Reynolds is funnier and more charismatic than anyone gives him credit for.
However, “Deadpool” was aimed at 15-year-old boys, so a lot of the jokes are aimed in that direction. I have no problem with dirty jokes. One of my favorite jokes of all time is in an episode of “Louie” and the punchline is a literal fart. In “Deadpool,” after hearing about masturbating for the tenth time, I just wanted to groan. It felt like it was using naughty words because it could. That’s what 15-year-old boys love. But how about a few jokes for the cool parents who bought tickets for their kids? Or the 23-year-old bloggers who went to see this so they could write about it?
Let’s give it a pass for pop culture references.
The problem with excessive pop culture references is that they can age a movie quickly. The interesting thing about “Deadpool” is that a majority of the references feel a few years old. Limp Bizkit? Bernadette Peters? As a character, Deadpool seems like a parent who is trying too hard to be cool. There’s something charming about it. It’s actually a lot like this great moment from “30 Rock”:
They break the fourth wall. A lot.
I have been informed that Derdpool talks to the audience a lot in the comics so naturally, this was adapted for his onscreen debut. Like excessive pop culture references, you’re walking a fine line with breaking the fourth wall. As somebody who grew up on “Goodfellas” (hell, I still think about “Goodfellas” every day), I am a fan of the meta and the breaking of the fourth wall.
“Deadpool” feels like Breaking the Fourth Wall Jr. The gag is fun sometimes, and it works during a fantastic opening credits sequence, which lists every cliche the film is going to present to you before it even starts. It’s a great way to start it off by saying, “yes, we know that we are serving you the same old crap.” But it almost gets to the edge of being annoying. But again, this film was made with 15-year-olds in mind, so restraint is automatically thrown out the window.
A tie-in to a larger superhero universe that actually works? Sweet!
Nobody can fault the Marvel Cinematic Universe for not being ambitious. My biggest problem with it is that tying such a large thing together ultimately waters down each individual film. Each smaller vision serves a larger one, which is why directors like Edgar Wright probably got scared away.
“Deadpool” includes a tie-in to the X-Men universe. Throughout the film, Colossus repeatedly calls on Derdpool to give up his “evil” ways and join the X-Men. You know what? This tie-in works. It doesn’t add too many characters or extra storylines to the film. It also represents Deadpool’s overall moral conflict, in which he has a chance to join the light but that’s just not in the cards for him.
However, every story has a “refusal of the call” in its first act. This could all be act one for a larger Deadpool story and we haven’t even gotten to the really good stuff yet. Given they opportunities for further synergy, I have a feeling that Deadpool can’t avoid the mutant academy for the rest of his life.
Yes, this movie is “fun enough,” but that’s not a bad thing. “Deadpool” never takes itself too seriously, but what would have made it better is if it didn’t act like the first R-rated movie based on a comic book. There have been plenty of those, and there have been plenty of movies where a character addresses the camera.
However, this is not just “enough.” There is more than enough here, thanks in large part to Ryan Reynolds’ commitment and charisma, to make me excited for a sequel. Just please don’t let Deadpool host SNL.