Just when Marvel’s movies were in danger of becoming boring, along comes “Deadpool,” an R-rated film based on one of the company’s many comic book characters. The film might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t imagine anyone calling it dull.
Before seeing “Deadpool,” I didn’t think I was going to like it. I thought it was going to be like the one guy at every party who’s loud and obnoxious and says the “F” word like it’s an exclamation point because he thinks it makes him cool. Vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity is just like that guy – useless.
I was right on two out of three counts. “Deadpool” is loud. But that comes with the territory. When was the last time you saw a quiet, understated shootout, car crash, or scrap yard brawl in an action movie? It’s also vulgar. Very vulgar. Either the writers got inventive or director Tim Miller gave Ryan Reynolds, who stars as the titular character, free rein to say whatever came to his mind while shooting his scenes. There are combinations of words in this film that I hadn’t heard before, and groups of words I hadn’t imagined going together. There’s also nudity and sex, and while those things aren’t gratuitous, they do get kinky.
But “Deadpool” is other things, too. Like funny. Really funny. A lot of the humor springboards off of the vulgarity, but it’s done with such tongue-in-cheek glee, I couldn’t help but laugh. Reynolds has been funny before, but never this funny, and never in a film this good. As Deadpool, he keeps the one-liners and puns rolling, and rarely hits a sour note. “Wait a minute,” he says as the SUV in which he’s beating up bad guys goes end over end on a freeway. “Did I turn off the stove?” (That’s one of only a few we can print.)
The film is also sweet. As Deadpool explains at the beginning of the movie, this is first and foremost a love story. Beneath all of the R-rated shenanigans is a touching story about a guy (Wade Wilson) who wants to do right by a girl (Vanessa Carlysle), and the girl who loves him with all of her heart.
Never mind that Wilson is a mercenary who works in the underbelly of New York City, and that Carlysle is a hooker. When he takes a liking to her and gives her a fistful of crumpled cash for an hour of whatever he wants, and he takes her to play skee ball, you know he has a soft spot for her..
Unfortunately, Wilson also has terminal cancer, which he doesn’t know until after he and Carlysle have fallen in love and started to build a life together. After he’s diagnosed, a man with dubious intentions seemingly appears out of nowhere and tells him he cannot only cure him but also give him powers beyond his imagination. Facing certain death, Wilson reluctantly goes along with the man’s proposal. Although the treatment is effective, it has some unexpected side effects, one of which is it turns his face into the love child of Freddy Krueger and a topographical map of Utah.
Unable to face Vanessa, Wilson walks away and begins the process of infiltrating the crime syndicate that screwed him over in the hopes of being turned back to his former self. Along the way, he learns the truth about the treatment program in which he took part, and like him, it isn’t pretty.
With “Deadpool,” Marvel breaks a lot of its own rules about being family friendly. But the film isn’t the first comic book adaptation to earn an R rating. The MPAA slapped “Watchmen” with an R rating in 2009 for many of the same reasons, although that film was joyless and self-important rubbish. On the other hand, “Deadpool” is pure fun. It might be wrapped in frat boy vulgarity and gratuitous violence, but it’s also laced with wit, humor, and heart. If it sounds like your cup of tea, I believe you’d enjoy it.
Three and a half stars out of four. Rated R for everything.
David Laprad is the assistant editor of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact him at email@example.com.