A superhero movie has never been funnier than “Deadpool.” Or more outlandish – or obscene. That should come as quite a relief to fans of Marvel Comics’ foul-mouthed anti-hero and especially Ryan Reynolds, who labored a long time to get Deadpool’s his own solo adventure on the big screen, a process that entailed – according to Deadpool, at least – fondling 20th Century Fox’s prized asset whose name “rhymes with Pullverine.”
Reynolds and Deadpool are truly the perfect actor-character marriage they’ve long purported to be. The showy, insult-driven and vulgar humor of the part recalls the “Van Wilder” days that launched Reynolds to stardom, and even though audiences are familiar with his shtick, there’s a whole other degree of wit applied to make “Deadpool” funny in an original way.
But “Deadpool” would be nothing but a crass cult film if it weren’t for strong bones from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script holding it together and giving the humor (and the entire movie, frankly) purpose. The “Zombieland” duo builds a clever and engaging story structure that serves as both effective origin story and a big showcase for Reynolds and the film’s panache-heavy approach.
First-time director Tim Miller succeeds with the flair, which is saying something given how clear it is that the visual effects budget for this one isn’t as high as it is for your typical superhero film, but the film is a little bumpy and chaotic at times, visually at least. Action, however, is not the film’s primary export, so much as cartoonish gore and comedy-driven sequences.
Yet the wit is where “Deadpool” really exceeds expectation. Fourth wall-breaking humor (and jokes about breaking the fourth wall) is a hallmark of the Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza comic and the script really uses this technique appropriately, along with a litany of self-aware meta-humor that will elicit chuckles from superhero movies fans, from references to Hugh Jackman to jabs at Reynolds’ previous superhero failures. These jokes help keep the barrage of foul- mouthed humor from feeling too grating, though with any comedy that goes for the quantity approach, it has noticeable misfires.
You should know if you’re into movies like “Deadpool” before you even set foot in a theater, and if you are, your expectations will likely be met. If you’re not as into the genre, you still might be surprised. Either way you’re likely to laugh harder than you ever have watching heroes in spandex, and that includes “Kick-Ass.”
“Deadpool” doesn’t succeed in all phases, but you’ll be surprised at the level of investment you feel in the story and the outcome thanks to the Reese and Wernick. That’s not an easy feat for a film that also knows it can’t take itself too seriously either. “Deadpool” finds that balance just long enough to hold the viewer through its more than reasonable runtime and deliver an enjoyable rump (sic) at the movies.
Directed by Tim Miller
Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld (character)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller