I watched this movie, first and foremost, because I promised the filmmakers on Twitter that I would, back when they were trying to get it greenlit. (Never let it be said that I don’t put my social media slacktivism into practice!) Clearly, an R-rated superhero black comedy was a hard sell to the studio – and indeed, Deadpool isn’t exactly a member of Marvel’s A-list squad.
While “Deadpool” exists within the same satirical tradition that gave viewers “Kick-Ass,” it’s far more unhinged and far less willing to un-ironically embrace genre conventions. The plot is stupendously simple: Ryan Reynolds stars as the disfigured superpowered antihero Wade Wilson, an amoral vigilante and erstwhile teammate of the X-Men. When Wade’s girlfriend is kidnapped after he escapes a “cancer treatment program” gone horribly awry, the Merc with a Mouth goes on the warpath. Cue mayhem, explosions, yada yada…all with a heaping helping of sarcastic side commentary.
Let me be clear on one thing: this movie is very, very offensive. In terms of sheer onscreen shenanigans, it’s pretty average for an R-rated action film; what’s genuinely shocking is what comes out of Wade’s mouth. On and on and on it goes, from staggeringly grotesque metaphors to snarky observations about IKEA furniture. (As is his comic counterpart’s wont, Wade also routinely breaks the fourth wall to chat directly with the audience, firing barbs at Marvel Studios, Ryan Reynolds’ past “Green Lantern” flick, and the incoherence that is the X-Men film series chronology). This is not a movie for general audiences, but rather for the “Cards Against Humanity” set (if you don’t already know what that is, “Deadpool” is probably not your cup of tea).
It’s also very funny. You will laugh, and you will feel guilty about it.
“Deadpool” is by no means a great movie. The pacing is strange, to say the least, and the movie’s tone weirdly shifts between the serious and the offbeat. There’s no trace of a moral core to speak of (it’s not like Deadpool operates by any personal code), or any serious intellectual depth…at all. (As an aside, this is surprisingly rare; I can usually identify some sort of cultural touchstone that warrants a bit of discussion. Perhaps, in its over-the-top farce juxtaposed against a purportedly “epic” backdrop, “Deadpool” is a sort of “Miller’s Tale” within the broad set of “Canterbury Tales” that Marvel is trying to tell. But that’s quite a stretch.)
In short, “Deadpool” is to big-budget superhero cinema what Hollywood Undead is to music: vulgar, hilarious, self-aware, thematically inconsistent, and wholly inappropriate for pretty much everyone. If you too are a terrible person, however, this is the Deadpool film you know you’ve been waiting for.
Loud, rude, over-the-top, and very fun: the kind of movie Michael Bay wishes he could make.
Normalized Score: 5.8