Fred Savage and Ryan Reynolds in Once Upon a Deadpool
When rumours started circulating about a holiday-themed Deadpool movie being released in theatres this December, few assumed it would be an entirely new movie. It’s kind of hard to make a superhero feature without anyone noticing, unless all you need is a soundstage, your star and a surprise cameo by the most-likely-to-lampoon-himself child star from the ’80s. Once Upon a Deadpool isn’t a new movie — it’s the exact same movie as Deadpool 2, recut to reach a PG-13 rating. Even that practice is nothing new — it was a common occurrence in the ’90s for the major networks to recut popular films into oblivion, creating entirely nonsensical versions of movies by Scorsese and the Coen Brothers.
But give Ryan Reynolds and his team an inch and they’ll take a mile: Once Upon a Deadpool is, of course, a po-mo and Deadpoolified version of that sort of edit, framed around newly shot footage of Deadpool reading a storybook version of Deadpool 2 to Fred Savage (who is being held against his will). This take-off on The Princess Bride therefore offers no real extra footage of any import; the structure of the original film is more or less left the same, with the most overt bits of ultraviolence, sex and foul language being excised.
(In case you need to refresh your memory on the original cut of Deadpool 2, here’s my review from earlier this year.)
The edits don’t really change the core of Deadpool 2 much. It’s slightly choppier and has rendered some gags more laboured by removing offending elements from them, but generally speaking, the experience of watching Once Upon a Deadpool is not terribly different from that of watching Deadpool 2. It puts into perspective exactly what is considered to be “offending material” — this cut is just as violent, but it has absolutely no blood — but stops well short of being some kind of meta-commentary on violence in the media or whatever the hell else you may glean from that edit.
Reynolds and Savage’s interruptions are relatively few and far between, though they’re fairly clever. The conceit allows the wall-breaking Deadpool to address criticisms of the film directly, including the “fridging” of Morena Baccarin’s character and the film’s tendency to brush off any problem as self-aware lazy writing. It’s practically a step beyond post-modern, at this point: so far gone, it’s popping up on the other side.
I’m not exactly sure who will benefit from the existence of Once Upon a Deadpool; any kids who may have been forbidden from seeing it at first have almost certainly found a way to see it by now, and dyed-in-the-wool comic book nerds may be baited by the prospect of 15 to 20 additional minutes of motor-mouthed insanity from Reynolds. Some of the proceeds from the film’s re-release will be donated to Fuck Cancer, which is a nice move, but other than that, Once Upon a Deadpool is an agreeably pointless endeavour. Very Deadpool, to be fair. ■
Once Upon A Deadpool is in theatres Wednesday, Dec 12. Watch the trailer here: