'Deadpool' Is a Potty-Mouthed Splatterfest. A Really Funny One

Feb 11, 2016
Originally published on February 12, 2016 5:57 am

Marvel's new superhero movie Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, a fact that, up to now, would likely not have been considered much of a selling point. This is not, after all, Reynolds' first stint as a superhero. There was that catastrophic Green Lantern movie, his animated supersnail in Turbo, and he played this character very briefly in what's arguably the least of the X-Men movies.

So it's sort of a relief to be able to report that Reynolds is finally coming into his own in Deadpool, which has the singular virtue of being funnier than we've been led to believe a superhero film can be.

It's also violent to point of sadism, explicit both visually and in terms of language. A potty-mouthed splatterfest, in fact — but a funny one. In short, it's not for kids, though it's hard to imagine the 14-year-old who won't be trying to sneak in this weekend.

Marvel has perfected the superhero screenplay for the PG-13 crowd. Here the brand is venturing deep into R territory, pretty much from the opening credits where the camera zips through one of those frozen-bullet, slow-motion car crashes as cheeky generics stand in for names. Featured actors include "Hot Chick," "Some Idiot," "Moody Teen" and "British Villain." The director is listed as "Overpaid Tool," and there's one really good joke: screenplay written by "The Real Heroes Here."

And the fourth-wall-breaking doesn't stop with the credits. "She's gonna do a superhero landing, wait for it," Deadpool says, grinning, as an opponent leaps from on high into a crouch.

"Really hard on your knees," he adds. "Totally impractical. They all do it."

The plot centers on a good guy who's also a bad guy — special forces op turned mercenary Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds, who undergoes a rogue medical procedure that gives him superfast healing powers but also leaves him looking — in one of the kinder phrases best-bud T.J. Miller offers — "like a testicle with teeth."

The rest — in more or less typical, though R-rated, superhero fashion — is our wisecracking antihero exacting revenge on Ajax (Ed Skrein), the snarling sadist who did this to him, while rescuing girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who asserts repeatedly that damsel in distress is not a comfortable role for her, though she is eventually reduced to one.

Have we been here before? Well, yeah, though mostly in pieces. Deadpool's deadpan owes a little something to Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man; the over-the-top violence, we've seen in Kill Bill and Watchmen. The deconstructing-the-superhero thing was done in Kick-Ass. Even that frozen-bullet-zipping-around thing director Tim Miller keeps returning to has been done recently in an X-Men flick.

Oh, I should've mentioned, there are a couple of X-persons here, too — Deadpool's buddy Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), who gets his chromed head handed to him, and a youngster who fully lives up to her name: Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).

Miller, who is directing his very first feature here, after mostly serving up visual effects and animated credit sequences elsewhere (including the spectacular credits to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), seems to be having plenty of fun mixing the clatter with patter and splatter as his writers keep the self-referential Hollywood references coming — to Reynolds' "Sexiest Man Alive" People magazine cover, to Liam Neeson's Taken movies, to how a buxom Bernadette Peters fueled the 14-year-old Wade Wilson's fantasies.

All of which is designed to make Deadpool appeal to the cynical, rebellious 14-year-old in everyone. Whether you want to unleash that 14-year-old? ... that's up to you.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Marvel's new superhero movie "Deadpool" stars Ryan Reynolds. This is not his first stint as a superhero. He was in the poorly-received "Green Lantern" movie. He has voiced an animated super snail, and he played the character Deadpool very briefly in an "X-Men" movie. But NPR critic Bob Mondello says for Ryan Reynolds, the fourth time is the charm.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Let me just say it straight out. "Deadpool" is funny.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

RYAN REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Please don't make this super-suit green or animated.

MONDELLO: I'm trying to think of the last time I laughed out loud at a superhero film - chuckled, sure - but laughs, not really. "Deadpool" is funny.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) You're probably thinking this was a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a kebab. Surprise - this is a different kind of superhero story.

MONDELLO: Which is to say it is also violent - heads sliced off, blood pooling around corpses, bullets and blows aimed sadistically.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) You may be wondering, why the red suit. Well, that's so bad guys can't see me bleed. This guy's got the right idea. He wore the brown pants.

MONDELLO: And it's explicit, both visually and in terms of language.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) It wreaks like old lady pants in here.

LESLIE UGGAMS: (As Blind Al) Sounds like you have a [expletive] in your mouth.

MONDELLO: In short, "Deadpool" is not for kids, though it's hard to imagine the 14 year old who won't be trying to sneak in this weekend. Marvel has perfected the superhero story for the PG-13 crowd. This is R territory, and it's going in deep, though also with humor - about three jokes per sentence and no real interest in whether all the jokes land. There are opening credits where cheeky generics do the work of names. Featured actors include some hot chick, moody teen, along with one really good joke - screenplay written by, quote, "the real heroes here." And the fourth-wall breaking doesn't stop with the credits.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) You're going to do a superhero landing. Wait for it. You know, that's really hard on your knees, totally impractical. They all do it.

MONDELLO: The plot centers on a good guy who's also a bad guy, special forces op Wade Wilson played by Ryan Reynolds, who undergoes a rogue medical procedure that gives him superfast healing powers but...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Whatever they did to me made my body indestructible, but my face...

T.J. MILLER: (As Weasel) No.

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Look at me.

MILLER: (As Weasel) I...

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) No, look at it.

MILLER: (As Weasel) No, I don't want to.

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Exactly.

MONDELLO: The rest, in more or less typical, though R-rated, superhero fashion, is him exacting revenge on the sadist who did this to him while rescuing his girlfriend. Have we been here before - well, yeah, though mostly in pieces. "Deadpool's" deadpan owes a little something to Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man," the over-the-top violence we've seen in "Kill Bill." The deconstructing-the-superhero thing was done in "Kick-Ass." Even the zipping-through-the-frozen-bullet-slow-motion bit that director Tim Miller keeps returning to has been done recently in an "X-Men" flick. Oh, and I should have mentioned there are a couple of X-persons here - "Deadpool's" buddy Colossus who gets his head handed to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

STEFAN KAPICIC: (As Colossus) I'd prefer not to hit a woman. So please...

MONDELLO: And the youngster who fully lives up to her name - Negasonic Teenage Warhead, though she's easily distracted.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Oh, no. Finish your tweet. That's fine. Just give us a second. There you go. Hashtag it. Go get her, tiger.

MONDELLO: Miller, who is directing his very first feature here after mostly serving up visual effects and animated credit sequences, seems to be having plenty of fun mixing the clatter with splatter...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Right up Main Street.

MONDELLO: ...and patter.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

MILLER: (As Weasel) [Expletive], you are hard to look at.

REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) Like [expletive] with teeth.

MILLER: (As Weasel) You look like Freddy Krueger face [expletive] a topographical map of Utah.

MONDELLO: Miller and his writers also keep the self-referential Hollywood references coming - to Reynolds' Sexiest Man Alive People Magazine cover to Liam Neeson's "Taken" movies to how buxom Bernadette Peters fueled the 14-year-old Deadpool's fantasies, all of which is designed to make "Deadpool" appeal to the cynical, rebellious 14-year-old in everyone. Whether you want to unleash that 14-year-old, that is up to you. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "X GONNA GIVE IT TO YA")

DMX: (Rapping) First we gonna rock. Then we gonna roll. Then we let it pop. Don't let it go. X gonna give it to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.