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‘Deadpool’ Review: Average Marvel Flick Buried In Relentless (But Funny) Crudity

In 2012’s “21 Jump Street,” a character tells another character to, “Go suck a d*ck.” If memory serves, the sequel, “22 Jump Street,” apologized for that line as homophobic, which made me want to break down in tears after punching someone. Simply put, I don’t want to live in an America where you can’t tell someone to “go suck a d*ck.” Marvel’s “Deadpool,” the latest sure-fire and very R-rated entry into that ever-expanding universe, does not have this problem.

That’s the good news. “Deadpool,” which is even more of a comedy than a superhero film, is not in any way hindered by political correctness. In fact, the self-referential script frequently mocks political correctness. The script is also unbelievably, indescribably (in this format) raunchy. One of the tamer examples is a lovely young woman reassuring a horribly deformed man, “That’s a face I can sit on.”

The only difference between the humor in “Deadpool” and a Judd Apatow movie is that “Deadpool” actually made me laugh.

Granted, the movie is funny. When our hero (Ryan Reynolds in a career-making role) taunts the villain by spelling out his girly name with the massacred bodies of dead henchman (including a decapitated head to dot the “i”), I about fell out of my seat. Nevertheless, two hours of nihilistic violence and raunchiness is about 90 minutes more than I would have liked. Admittedly, I’m a bit more of a prude than your average teen today, but my reaction had more to do with the repetition than the ick.

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At first this anarchic approach feels liberating. Reynolds constantly breaks the fourth wall. Deadpool is not only aware that he is a superhero, he is also aware that he is in a superhero movie. Most refreshing is that he has no desire to be a goody two-shoes X-Man. Deadpool is not a joiner. He is also not a hero. He’s on a shameless quest for revenge, and revenge he shall have.

For the all its anarchy, though, “Deadpool” is still a standard Marvel origin movie. Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is just your average black market mercenary who falls in love with a gorgeous but foul-mouthed hooker (Morena Baccarin) when he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. A last chance treatment places Wade in the hands of sadistic sociopaths who can cure his cancer by turning him into a mutant. Unfortunately, the small print says he must agree to be a slave.

As good as Reynolds is, and he is very, very good (and a long way from his “Green Lantern” debacle), Wade Wilson is basically Tony Stark with a foul mouth. The non-stop irreverence, the shield of ironic distance, the wild-eyed libertarian streak… There is really nothing new here. This includes the action sequences, which are rote-Marvel, just bloodier.

Moreover, “Kick-Ass” brilliantly invented this take on the superhero genre six years ago. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” did it better and with more originality just last year.

“Deadpool” has a lot going for it, but its only real lasting effect is to make me want to see its predecessors again.  I must say, though, that this feels like the kind of franchise that will improve over time.

DO NOT miss the after-credits scene. Chik-chika-chikahhh…

ADDED: Readers are pointing out that this is not a Marvel-Marvel film but a Fox-Marvel film. I realize that but in look and tone, straight through to the Stan Lee cameo, “Deadpool” is a total and complete Marvel film. It doesn’t feel like an “X-Men” film and it surely doesn’t feel like a “Fantastic Four” film. There is just no question 20th Century-Fox went with what works, surrendered its own aesthetic to embrace Marvel’s.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               

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