Once Upon A Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds, Fred Savage, Josh Brolin
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“A Christmas bauble for only the most hardcore of fans…”
Aaaah, what this could have been. Deadpool 2 trimmed, repackaged, and reheated as, um, a family film? The foulmouthed Merc With A Mouth forced to keep it clean? A tourniquet applied to the film’s eye-popping levels of bloodletting? That’s one bizarre experiment we’d like to see! If only that’s what Once Upon A Deadpool was! Sadly, this is even less of a “new film” than fans may have been led to expect…it’s literally Deadpool 2 with the F-bombs deactivated and the moments of supremely nasty violence excised, and then wrapped in a new – and admittedly brilliant – framing device.
In the film’s mega meta conceit, Ryan Reynolds’ fast-talking, pop culture quoting super-anti-hero, Deadpool, kidnaps the now adult Fred Savage, tapes him to a bed, and forces him to re-enact his famous framing device scenes from Rob Reiner’s much-loved 1987 cult classic, The Princess Bride. But this time, it’s Deadpool reading the story of Deadpool 2 rather than Peter Falk trotting out that family favourite’s far more genteel fairy tale. The scenes between Reynolds and Savage – which are cut throughout the film – are snappy and hilarious, delivering sneaking gut-punches not only to the Deadpool films themselves, but to the superhero genre in totem. We won’t spoil any of the gags here because, well, they’re the only things that can really be spoilt in Once Upon A Deadpool.
If you’ve already seen Deadpool 2, then you’ve seen Once Upon A Deadpool too…it’s basically an old-style “in-flight entertainment” bowdlerisation of the film, and what’s the appeal in that? If the makers had actually gone all the way and literally turned Deadpool into a family film (by, say, incorporating footage and outtakes from both Deadpool movies, and then messing with the dialogue to Frankenstein it into something “new” altogether), that would have been a true metafictional feat. As it is, this rehash sits in a tedious no-man’s-land: the retained gags about child molesting, rape whistles, and prison sex mean that you can’t safely take the kids, while the cleaned up action is far less enthralling than the balls-out slug-fests of the original. A Christmas bauble for only the most hardcore of fans, Once Upon A Deadpool is a massive disappointment, and a major pop cultural misstep for one of the savviest franchises around.