Saturday, December 22, 2018

Once Upon a Deadpool

Note: The following review contains spoilers for Deadpool 2.

Following the success of Deadpool 2 and, presumably, the Deadpool 2 Super Duper Cut re-release, Fox has decided to re-release Deadpool 2 yet again, this time as a PG-13 version titled Once Upon a Deadpool. While this is obviously a blatant cash-grab, Once Upon a Deadpool features 16 minutes of additional content that actually makes the third viewing worth it.

At Christmastime, Fred Savage (Fred Savage) wakes up in a bedroom, only to quickly realize that Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) has kidnapped him and is holding him in a perfect recreation of the bedroom from The Princess Bride. Deadpool reveals that he won’t release him until he hears a bedtime story, actually a sanitized version of Deadpool 2. Desperate to leave, Savage decides to hear the story, read to him from a book whose spine reads Deadpool 2: The King James Edition.

Fred Savage (left) is forced to hear Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds; right) read
him a sanitized version of Deadpool 2 during Christmastime.

The rest of the story plays out largely the same as Deadpool 2, but cut and censored to appeal to the PG-13 market. As with most PG-13 superhero movies, this involves a general lack of blood and gore and swearing limited to a single f-word, but liberal usage of “shit” and “bitch”; ironically, despite Deadpool stressing the limit of one f-word, none are uttered throughout the entire film (unless you count one used during Juggernaut’s (Ryan Reynolds) theme). Additionally, a mosaic censor is applied to some nudity and a few scenes are shortened to remove certain jokes. For example, Deadpool now only asks Cable (Josh Brolin) one question about the future, regarding whether or not dubstep is still a thing.

Although the central story of Once Upon a Deadpool is a slightly abridged version of Deadpool 2, the footage that was cut is replaced with new footage featuring brand new jokes, including a reference to Pixar’s Up (2009), and the larger Fred Savage framing device. Though most of the remaining footage is from the original cut, some of the footage is notably taken from the Super Duper Cut, likely to help pad out the running time to still remain just below two hours.

The biggest and most obvious change, of course, is the aforementioned Fred Savage framing device. This framing device not only makes the PG-13 rating possible, it also allows the opportunity for more jokes and meta-humor, which largely includes mocking the PG-13 rating and Fred Savage poking holes in the story. The additional back-and-forth between Deadpool and Fred Savage showcases the latter’s acting ability and provides the biggest incentive for those who had previously seen a cut of Deadpool 2 to return for another round.

If you stay for the credits, there’s not only a new post-credits sequence, concluding the story of the framing device, but also a heartwarming tribute to Stan Lee directly after.

Once Upon a Deadpool is largely a retread of Deadpool 2, this time through a sanitized PG-13 lens, but the new footage and commentary are enough to keep the same story fresh. As an added bonus, Fox donated a dollar from every ticket to the organization Fudge Cancer. I’d recommend Once Upon a Deadpool to fans of Deadpool 2 who don’t mind seeing another cut, as well as families with kids who were previously unable to see the original R-rated release, though with the caveat that Once Upon a Deadpool is a harder PG-13 than other superhero films.

To read reviews of other Christmas films, please see our Christmas Review Hub.

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