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Film Review – Once Upon a Deadpool (2018)

Once Upon a Deadpool

Nobody asked for Once Upon a Deadpool. There was no need for Once Upon a Deadpool. However, Disney takes over Fox in less than a month and so the studio, like Deadpool in the first film, “hit f * * * it”. And out of this f * * * it, we were gifted with Once Upon a Deadpool. Surprisingly, the Merc with a Mouth manages to please, even in a watered down and repackaged version of Deadpool 2.

The following review will have minor spoilers for Deadpool 2, but will not spoil the new content for Once Upon a Deadpool.

Once Upon a Deadpool

Image via IndieWire

Synopsis

Directed By: David Leitch

Written By: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni, Terry Crews, and Fred Savage

“Twas a fortnight before Christmas and all throughout Fox,

Execs knew they could rake in a few more million from the Holiday Box.

So following the age-old adage,

They kidnapped Fred Savage.

‘Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’, roared Santa Pool;

as he beat once more, the dead horse under his yoke”

This isn’t a real synopsis, but it makes more sense than the official one. Basically, it’s Deadpool 2 but instead of the f-word and baby testicles, there’s Fred Savage commenting on the film while strapped to a bed.

Background

Personally, I loved Deadpool 2. However, I saw little merit in cleaning the film up for a PG-13 rating. The Deadpool franchise is based on Ryan Reynolds’ ability to make crude jokes and swear incessantly. A PG-13 rating diminishes both of those actions, and thus didn’t seem promising. Thankfully, Ryan Reynolds only agreed to the remix on two conditions. “First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity,” said Reynolds. “Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage.”Fox agreed to both of these conditions and Once Upon a Deadpool was born.

Again, this remix was in no way necessary. That being said, it’s still an admiral addition to the “Marvel, licensed by Fox” canon before it all gets swept under the rug by Disney in less than a month.

Where is Céline Dion?

The most “what is happening here?” moment for me in the original cut is Céline Dion’s James Bond style opening song. Sadly, this was not included in Once Upon a Deadpool, even though the intro music still builds slightly in the scene preceding it. The majority of the film’s original music is still there, but the Canadian pop singer’s presence is greatly missed.

Is It Different from Deadpool 2?

Once Upon a Deadpool

Image via Letterboxd

Once Upon a Deadpool follows the same basic structure of Deadpool 2 and combines footage from the theatrical cut, as well as from the Super Duper Cut released on Blu-ray. The major beats of the story do not change, but the humor is greatly altered. The film omits most of Wade Wilson and Cable’s raunchily crude comments, and edits out every instance of the f-word. On several occasions there are noticeable dubs over the original dialogue that can be a bit jarring. In particular, there is a clear dub over one of Cable’s lines towards the end of the film that sounds as if it was edited by a middle school journalism student.

Other than that, the story is frequently broken by Fred Savage’s comments on the story. These comments frequently dissect notable flaws within the film’s logic or its coherence to comic book tradition in the vein of CinemaSins. The Fred Savage scenes are entirely new to the film, but fit nicely within the fourth wall breaking context of the story.

The Deadpool Bride

Once Upon a Deadpool

Image via Slashfilm

As stated above, there is quite a bit of new content revolving around Deadpool and the “alleged” kidnapping of Fred Savage. The additional content adds about 15-20 minutes to the trimmed down run-time, which is a decent amount for a re-release. The inclusion of Fred Savage frames Once Upon a Deadpool around a Princess Bride-esque narrative given by Deadpool with the occasional interjection of Fred Savage.

The new material provides some of the funniest moments in the film, and addresses some of Deadpool 2’s controversial narrative decisions. Fred Savage bashes the story for its fridge-ing of Vanessa, lack of backstory for Cable, and self-excuses for lazy writing. It almost feels as if director David Leitch heard criticism of the film and decided to address it with a couple of days of re-shoots, a role of duct tape, and an 80’s child icon.

Stan Lee

Once Upon a Deadpool

Image via the Independent

It feels important to note that Once Upon a Deadpool, being the first Marvel film released following Stan Lee’s death, pays proper homage to the Marvel giant. While Lee does not physically appear in Deadpool 2, his likeness is shown graffitied on the side of a building. Once Upon a Deadpool adds a graffiti “RIP” to the image, and the film ends with a short post-credits video tribute to Stan Lee. “Excelsior!,” indeed.

Final Thoughts

Once Upon a Deadpool

Image via Slashfilm

Surprisingly, Once Upon a Deadpool adds something new and fun to the Deadpool 2 story. This film was completely unnecessary and a holiday cash-grab, but it isn’t a terrible one. The film definitely loses a chunk of its identity with the omission of its R-rated content, but the streamlined story and additional new bits breathe enough new life into the story for Once Upon a Deadpool to live well enough on its own.

Grade: B+


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3 Responses

  1. calypte says:

    I was looking forward to seeing this, not realising it was a one-night-only thing! Was curious what they’d changed, so thanks 🙂

  2. Olaf Lesniak says:

    Deadpool went from being a romantic comedy to a family movie to a Christmas one. Wut

  3. Nick Kush says:

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