I thoroughly enjoy wiseass with a capital “W” on the big screen. So, I am suitably impressed with the “Deadpool” super(anti)hero movie. Most accurately, I’m only impressed with Ryan Reynolds as the title character. He is just a young, violent Rodney Dangerfield armed with snarky comments during his most perilous situations (such as after pressing a car’s cigarette lighter – remember those? – to a bad guy’s forehead and then sticking it in the guy’s mouth). Reynolds machineguns out the one-liners like Rodney dealing out rimshot jokes. Bah dah dum! To my eye, there isn’t much in the way of story here, but “Deadpool” is a tour-de-force for Reynolds with his quips as an ongoing treat and CGI making it a visually exciting film.
(2016; 108 minutes; rated R; directed by Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams)
FORGET SUPERHERO, I LIKE SUPER-SNARKY!
(NOTE: I expanded this review slightly with a little more opinion and trivia and the updating of links on June 16, 2018.)
I’m not a big superhero movie fan. I enjoyed the comic books a long time ago, but the movies just haven’t ever been prominent on my big-screen radar – and that’s almost heresy for a movie fan today. However, there is one superhero film (well, a super anti-hero, I guess) that is totally hilarious even if you don’t like superheroes in the theater. It is “Deadpool.”
Our daughter introduced it to me and I was captivated from the first moments. Ryan Reynolds stars as the title character and as he kills and maims, he spouts off quips faster than a Catskills comic could say, “Take my mother-in-law, please!” Of course all of his comments are vile, disgusting and profane – but that’s what makes them all the more fun. Just as I blurted “OMG” just about every time Robert De Niro opened his mouth in the first 30 minutes of “Dirty Grandpa” (click here for my review), I found “Deadpool” was an OMG movie, too.
I’m not gonna spend much time on the plot of “Deadpool.” It’s pretty straightforward (at least in superhero land). A man with a terminal disease becomes the focus of an experiment that leaves him disfigured but with miraculous healing powers and, I guess, superhero powers, too. Whatever they might be. Throughout “Deadpool,” the title character is running down guys trying to find the chief bad guy who caused all his pain. There you have it.
Now, the best thing you can do is put your mind in neutral about the plot and just sit back and listen to Reynolds. He is super-good here and is without a doubt my leading candidate for “Most Convincing Wiseass” at this coming year’s Oscars. Reynolds is so good in the role that you know that unless he had superhero strength, he’d get beaten up at any bar because of his wisecracks.
The odd thing about “Deadpool” is that there really isn’t much I can see in the way of a story … or dialogue between characters … or emotion … or, really anything except Reynolds being a big wiseass – and a very explicit sex scene or two. There is one supporting actor who does a memorable job and one who does a good job, so I’ll get right to looking at the only member of the principal cast worth writing about …
- Reynolds is pitch-perfect as “Wade ‘Deadpool’ Wilson.” His voice, his mannerisms and his expressions never waver when called on to be snarky. I mean, Reynolds was just made for this film. Outside of that, I can’t evaluate anything he does since there isn’t much acting beyond being a wiseass. So, I’ll just have to give him an A+ on that front and an incomplete on the rest. Reynolds was the title character in “The Green Lantern” and played “Wade Wilson” in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” He also was in the viciously violent “Smokin’ Aces” and even had an uncredited role in “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”
As for the only two other actors worth a mention in “Deadpool” …
- J. Miller plays “Weasel,” who runs the mercenaries bar where “Deadpool” hangs out, and he’s the perfect foil to Reynolds’ quips, jibes and verbal shots. He holds his own with Reynolds while elevating his character – and that’s not easy to do in a movie that I can’t even define more than the basic plot outline. Miller has been in “Cloverfield” and voiced in “How to Train Your Dragon.”
- I found a wonderful turn here by 1970s TV star and Golden Globe nominee (not for this one) Leslie Uggams, who plays “Blind Al.” She’s Reynolds’ roommate and, when you get right down to it, is just as strange while being much quieter about it. Uggams’ character could have used more screen time, but I’m not sure how it would have fit it and could have all too easily become a drag. To her ultimate credit, Uggams plays a winning hand with the cards that she’s dealt. She was nominated for the Globe and a Primetime Emmy for her work in the TV mini-series “Roots” and is also a Daytime Emmy winner for a variety series “Fantasy.” I liked her on “The Love Boat” (click here for my review).
The bad guys are bad in “Deadpool” but not memorable (although one has the great character name of “Angel Dust”) while the member of the “X-Men” I liked best is Brianna Hildebrand as “Negasonic Teenage Warhead.” Hildebrand’s only emotion is staring daggers, but my impression is that she has potential to elevate the character. It would have been super nice (pun intended) to have given her more screen time.
“Negasonic” is one of only two characters outside Uggams’ that I’d say is worthy of more screen time, with the other being Karan Soni, who plays “Dopinder.” He’s Reynolds’ taxi driver and it would have been great for the writers to weave him more into the overall story for more screen time. Soni was also in the simply horrific remake of “Ghostbusters.”
I’m also unsure of what I can say about Oscar nominee (not for this one) Tim Miller, who is in the director’s chair for the first time in “Deadpool.” Miller, who has two short film directing credits and five writing credits, looks to have the chops for feature film work, but his job was considerably eased by the writing and Reynolds’ pitch-perfect ability with wiseass comments. He was nominated for an animated short film and he was nominated for best first-time director for “Deadpool” from the Directors Guild of America, USA.
In the end, despite liking “Deadpool” so much, I’ll probably wait for the sequel to come out on DVD (if they’re still around when that day arrives). It’s good fun, but not so spectacular that I’d pay theater prices to see it. Don’t worry, as soon as it’s on video, I’ll give you my take on it (as if you care 😦 ).
“Deadpool” was the sixth ranked film at U.S. theaters for 2016 with $363 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. Worldwide it has raked in a cool $783 million on a $58 million budget, according to Wiki. The No. 1 film was “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” with $532.1 million and coming in second was Disney’s “Finding Dory” with $486.2 million, while at No. 3 is another superhero film “Captain America: Civil War” with $408 million. Here are the other films from 2016 that I’ve reviewed:
- “Dirty Grandpa” (modestly funny raunch) – click here for my review
- “Hail, Caesar” (great, quirky Coen brothers) – click here for my review
- “Office Christmas Party” (solid raunch comedy) – click here for my review
Assorted cast and film notes (via IMDb.com):
- “Deadpool” is the first R-rated film to have an opening weekend box office gross above $100 million.
- Reynolds has been quoted as saying “Deadpool” is the last comic book character he will play (and he’s reprising the role in the sequel).
- Directly from IMDb.com: “During a talk at Google, Ryan Reynolds revealed that the taxi driver character “Dopinder” was named after ‘a really cool guy’ he knew in elementary school, who died when he was hit by lightning. It was meant to be a tribute to him.”
- At $58 million “Deadpool” had a smaller budget than other recent superhero action films.
- Chinese authorities refused to allow “Deadpool” to be shown in China not because of any negative portrayal of a Chinese or Asian character, but by the extreme violence and profanity. They further decided to cut out the offending parts would make the film incomprehensible and just banned it in its entirety.
- Finally and directly from IMDb.com: (showing how tragedy in life can affect the big screen): “There was going to be a running gag involving Wade and the other bar patrons betting money on how Amy Winehouse would die. This was cut because Winehouse actually did die sometime after the script was written, making the joke both irrelevant and possibly insensitive.” Possibly, except for “Wade,” of course.
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