Deadpool (2016) (R)

Surely, you've heard about "Deadpool" by now, and if you haven't, I won't be the one to explain the story. This isn't a movie that thrives on its plot, because with all of its quirky one-liners and fourth-wall breaking, the core of "Deadpool" is something fairly contrived. That's what makes it fun. It realizes that the plot is really basic, so it can make all the jokes it wants at the expenses of the studio, the Marvel-verse, Ryan Reynolds, and the super-hero genre as a whole. One would think with this amount of snark and sarcasm thrown at its predecessors, it wouldn't attempt to follow their trajectories...but then we realize that maybe "Deadpool" isn't as ground-breaking as it would like.
Okay, fine, I lied. I'll set up the idea: hired gun Wade (a surprisingly hunky Reynolds) gets cancer and in order to beat the illness, he allows a British mad scientist/mutant Ajax (Ed Skrein) to torture him for months. The result leaves him scarred and seeking vengeance...and also a person with super abilities. As he tells us many times after adopting the name Deadpool, he isn't a hero.
"Deadpool" couldn't have been made three years ago. I'm not talking about the uphill battle Reynolds and cohorts had to face to make the movie, I'm talking about the history of superhero movies. Within the last three years studios and audiences have realized one thing: popular culture can't get enough of superheros. Some of the biggest movies in history have been mutant action flicks like "The Avengers" or "Guardians of the Galaxy" or really take your pick of any of Marvel's larger films and you'll realize that this is a trend that isn't about to fade. So "Deadpool" comes along and fits nicely into the niche that was waiting for it: unashamed mockery.
I think it would be a disservice to call the movie a satire, because that's not exactly it. It's more of a horror comedy super hero action "Annie Hall". Imagine if Allen had filmed "The Avengers" instead of Joss Whedon and you're in the right ball park.
Yet there's a problem here. For as fun and likable as the whole movie is, it really isn't ground breaking. Films have been mocking their respective genres for a long time, this is just the first time it had a mask and bad ass fighting abilities. Think of Monty Python, "Fight Club", Michel Haneke, or Woody Allen.
That doesn't mean this can't be fun; but it does help us understand why some people have reacted negatively to "Deadpool's" sense of creating a genre. There is nothing horribly original to the movie, nothing outlandishly shocking, nor blisteringly sarcastic.
It's probably the most entertaining thing I've seen in a very long time, including the new "Star Wars" movie. "Deadpool" proves that you don't have to be a mindless action movie to be a magnificent success. The movie excels in every scene. It's brutal, uncomfortable, emotional at times, and always sarcastic. It's never cruel to the viewer like "Funny Games", but it could be. It makes me wonder what it would have been like had "Deadpool" been an independent movie; but maybe that's a rabbit trail I shouldn't go down.
It should be noted, as with most all reviews like this, that I haven't read any of the Deadpool comics, so I have no idea how loyal or disloyal the movie is to the comics. What I do know is that at the base of the movie, through all the graphic violence, gratuitous nudity, testicle jokes, and almost cringe-worthy antics, there is a very childlike moral.
All that glitters is not gold.
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.
Okay, yeah, so we get it, but it was much more entertaining to see it in "Deadpool".
Do yourself a favor, go watch this movie in the theater.

Score: ★★★½

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