Thursday, February 11, 2016
I think it was around the time that Deadpool farted into the face of an elderly black lady that I realized we weren’t dealing with a standard-issue superhero.
If that wasn’t the moment, then it arrived immediately after, when he needled her: “Hashtag: drive by!”
If “Guardians of the Galaxy” set the stage for comic book adaptations that were comedies first, action/adventure second, then “Deadpool” is the next step on the (d?)evolutionary scale: super heroes as gross-out laugh riots.
Golly, this movie is funny. And crude. And lewd. Even as I was watching it I thought to myself: “I can’t believe Marvel made this movie.” But I am very glad they did.
Things start with the opening credits, a freeze-frame journey of the camera around a scene of mayhem, a vehicle in mid-flight as Deadpool takes out some bad guys. As we pan and zoom around to reveal that Deadpool has his fingers poking a dude’s eyes out and the other hand giving another guy a wedgie, the credits mock themselves.
The film, we are informed, stars “a British villain,” “a CGI character” and “a moody teen,” amongst others, and was directed by “an overpaid tool.” A magazine flies by in the swirl, and it’s Ryan Reynolds’ “Sexiest Man Alive” cover of People.
Things continue as Deadpool repeatedly talks to the camera, reminding us that he’s a movie character. He breaks the fourth wall, then quips about breaking the fourth wall, then does a flashback where he again breaks the fourth wall. “That’s, like, 16 walls!” he brags.
The setup is that Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a badboy mercenary, a smirking ex-Special Forces expert now accepting money to do bad things to people even worse than him. He catches the perfect girl, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who shares his puckish humor and love of exploring every sexual position available. (A montage shows many, and much.)
But then he gets terminal cancer, which sucks, and signs on to a shadowy group that promises to not only cure him, but give him super abilities. This they do – he can heal virtually any wound a la Wolverine -- except it also involves turning him into a scarred freak who looks like Freddie Krueger’s next of kin.
Dubbing himself Deadpool, he resolves to hunt down the dastardly villain who did this to him, Ajax (Ed Skrein), get him to do a face fix, kill him, and win the girl back.
If this doesn’t sound like noble proselytizing about great power coming with great responsibility, that’s because it isn’t. Deadpool explicitly rejects the idea of being a hero, happily kills anyone who gets in his way and drops one-liners while doing it.
Deadpool also criticizes his own movie as it’s playing out, simultaneously acting as protagonist and nitpicking fanboy.
For instance, he has a run-in with Colossus from the X-Men (voice of Stefan Kapičić) and a young trainee (Brianna Hildebrand), then later recruits them to help him. Rolling up to Xavier mansion, Deadpool takes note that despite being such a big place, he’s only ever seen these two members of the team.
“It’s almost like the studio couldn’t afford another X-Man!” he zings.
At a reported $50 million budget, “Deadpool” is indeed a down-market spawn of the Marvel franchise. I will say that director Tim Miller milks every dollar of that budget, resulting in a great-looking film without any obvious cut corners. OK, Colossus looks a little cut-rate, not to mention very different from his previous movie appearances.
I should mention that Reynolds previously played the same character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but the filmmakers are doing a total reboot and hope you’ll completely forget about that iteration of Deadpool. (Don’t worry, guys, already done.)
Also turning up are T. J. Miller as Deadpool’s wiseacre best friend, who supports him but isn’t above betting on his demise; Gina Carano as Ajax’s burly enforcer; and Leslie Uggams as the aforementioned blind lady, who’s also Deadpool’s roommate at a ghetto rattrap.
(Hey, not every supe has Tony Stark money.)
Tim Miller was an interesting pick to direct, a first-timer who comes from a visual effects background. (His salary and tool-ishness are open to debate.) He certainly gives us plenty of eye candy and a brash tone. And screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who previously brought comedy to the horror genre with “Zombieland,” crank the yuks dial up to 11 and then somehow manage to sustain it the rest of the way.
How hilarious is “Deadpool?” You’ll spend the entire time laughing, coming off a big laugh or cursing audience members for laughing so long you missed the next joke.
Welcome to the new age of super hero movies: funny, foulmouthed and farty.