“Deadpool” (2016)

Last night, the mother of one of Jason’s 6th-grade playmates said that he was going to see a movie today, and that Jason was invited. “I’m not sure what,” she said. “Maybe `Deadpool’…”

Let me put this bluntly. There are indeed “R” rated movies I’d let Jason see. Say…Terminator 2. Restricted for violence and a bit of language. I certainly wouldn’t take him to a movie rated “R” for sexuality–his hormones are about to explode, he is healthily curious, and acting out can have (and will eventually have) life-long consequences. With sex, it’s not “whether” but “when” “where” and “with whom?” and “why not?”

Violence is a clearer line. The chances that he will actually blow someone’s head off in the next ten years is rather small separate from some very, very specific contexts he’ll see coming way in advance. The chance that in those same ten years he’ll get naked and frisky with someone is almost 100%, if he’s his father’s son at all.

So…nope, and if you want to consider me repressed, I’d have to say that you are entitled to your opinion, but you don’t know me very well.

Back to “Deadpool”–this movie is not, in any way shape or form, for kids. Nope nope nope. I can barely think of a 120 second stretch of this movie in which it doesn’t earn its Restricted status. And for adults, that is a hoot and a holler and a joyous revelation. “Deadpool” is Spiderman with Tourettes. I’d never read him in the comics (after my time) and only became aware when someone complained about his depiction in “X-Men: Origins”. I’ve never liked any of the X-Men movies particularly (and hated at least one of them for reasons that will be familiar to Constant Readers) so I didn’t really see the problem.

When people started talking about an R-rated “Deadpool” film and early reviews were ecstatic, I decided to look into it a bit, being a dedicated Marvel fan-boy. And saw that the character was a violent, pansexual compulsive smart-ass who is tragically aware that he is a comic book character, a puppet controlled by the writers and fans.

Could that really translate to a film? People were saying so. And Saturday night, I checked it out.

Whoa. Yeah, this was the “Deadpool” I’d heard about, played by Ryan Reynolds with snarky call-backs to the previous X-Men appearance AND to his failed sojourn as Green Lantern. This was hysterically over-the-top violence and fairly intense sexual content (nowhere near as intense as some said. Only really amazing for being in a “comic book” movie, and for the kinkiness on display, which is considerable).

The trick is that it is a traditional comic book movie with real-world sex and violence, and a character who knows he’s in a movie. People complaining about the “traditional” structure miss the fact that without that there would be no movie. You have the origin story: Wade Wilson is “the Merc with a mouth”, a smart assed soldier of fortune with a heart of gold. He falls in love with someone I have to admit feels like his mirror image, a hooker with the same cardiac condition, played by the delectable Morena Baccarin (of “Firefly”). They have a gloriously kinky and fun relationship interrupted by Wade’s sudden discovery that cancer ravages his body and he has but months to live.

Then a sleazy guy offers him a chance at life if he just submits to a little experiment…and you can probably guess the rest.

The trick to Superhero movies is that they are simply action, suspense, or SF/Fantasy stories that take place in a universe in which people have extraordinary powers and dress up in costumes. Swallow that conceit, and you arrive at the next question: “all right, do you have a story to tell me?” And for all recorded history, we’ve loved stories of heroes (one suspects only the best have survived through the millennia, and plenty of THAT is pretty trivial) and comic book superheroes have thrived for almost a century (if comic books are dying, at least part of that is because those stories can now be better expressed in film and television, which simply wasn’t true until about thirty years ago). Those who scream and wail about the death of adult drama in cinema aren’t paying attention to the absolute flood of mature programming on broadcast television, cable, and outlets like Amazon Prime. Remember when there were just three networks? Did you actually WATCH much of that crap? Oh, please.

Superheroes and SF explosions and giant robots work on the huge screens because “Ordinary People” would look absurd in Imax. Those gigantic screens need images we’ve not seen before, and the SF/Fantasy world is perfect for that. Meanwhile, watch all the “Breaking Bad” you want on Netflix.

Back to the review. Frankly, “Deadpool” is an absolute hoot if you get the joke. There is enough genuine emotional fiber to support the madness, and it is pretty clear that Wade has been driven partially insane by his experiences, his humor a defense against having been transformed from the “beautiful Ryan Reynolds” (they definitely go Meta there) to something that looks like “an avocado had sex with an older avocado.” The traditional comic book world intersects with two traditional heroes: Colossus, a titanium giant, and “Negatronic Teenage Warhead”, a sullen Goth girl who texts before going nova. Their goodie two-shoes personaes (especially Colossus) as they try to recruit him to “X Men” is one of the highlights of the film (as well as the “meta” comment that it is soooo strange that these are the only two X-Men appearing onscreen, almost as if 20th Century Fox couldn’t afford Hugh Jackman’s salary…)

The final analysis is that I enjoyed the hell out of it, but for every reason I can think of, would never even consider taking a kid under 16 to see it. And Tananarive probably wouldn’t feel comfortable taking Jason until he’s married. Maybe not then.

But for you and me? If this sounds like the kind of thing you’d like, you’ll probably have a ball.

For the sick and twisted among us, a B+


One comment

  1. That sums it up pretty well, regarding both what was good in the story and how uncomfortable I felt that I saw several kids in the audience. I hope their parents did a good job setting context, but somehow, I doubt it.


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