Birthdays and Deadpool

The last week has been really busy. First was the gathering of friends on Friday night, followed by the birthday party the next morning, some solo parenting Saturday night, some…I don’t even remember how I spent Sunday. Pre-work for one of the three freelance assignments I’ve picked up in the last 14 days probably. I had Monday off, but so did William, so we ended up at an indoor playground. That brought me to Tuesday, which was my birthday. Beth and I took the day off and made a Valentine hooky day out of it – lunch and a movie. That movie? Deadpool.

I want to start off by saying the usual: There will be some light spoilers ahead, but this is more of a review than an analysis.

I had absolutely no contact with this character prior to this movie. In fact, the movie wasn’t even on my radar until its marketing campaign kicked in. I’ve seen a few superhero movie marketing campaigns in my life, but I don’t think I’ve see any that were as downright creative as this one. Between the funny teasers, the fake-out trailers (“Deadpool is a romantic comedy! No, really!”), and the various videos in which Deadpool talks to the moviegoer directly, this movie came pre-macroed. I don’t know who engineered all that stuff, but they’re probably not getting paid enough. My only reservation walking into the theater was that Deadpool might turn out to be a superhero movie as directed by Adam Sandler in spite of its clever hype. You know what I’m talking about – the kind of movie that insults the watcher’s intelligence and goes out of its way to be offensive as though misogyny, racism, ableism, and body shaming are a substitute for a sense of humor.

Happily, Deadpool lived up to its marketing. It was playful and didn’t take itself too seriously, but it mostly avoided cheap shots. There were, I think, two lines of dialogue that were borderline, but I felt (speaking as someone with the face of the oppressor, so take it with a grain of salt) that it reflected more about the character than on the film itself. Deadpool is not a nice guy. At one point he encourages a stranger to kidnap and murder a romantic rival more or less for shits and giggles, after all. He does anything he can to get under people’s skin. He somehow turns his enemy’s first name into an insult, makes a few of “mopey teenager” jokes at the teenager (who is in no way taking his shit or allowing herself to be goaded by it), and yes, accuses his nemesis’ female lieutenant of being a man. However, this wasn’t really played up for laughs so much as it was another point of data showing that Deadpool can’t seem to keep his big mouth shut. The character throws insults at everyone, but the movie doesn’t do anything to dignify his insults, if that makes any sense? If this *had* been an Adam Sandler movie, Negasonic would have acted more like a stereotypical teenager, and the bad guy’s sidekick would have actually been revealed as “a man” (probably after tricking the hero into sleeping with her).

Anyway.

The fourth-wall-breaking style worked really well as a storytelling device, and I understand that it was also very much in keeping with the Deadpool of the comics. The jokes start in the opening credits, and really don’t let up until after the post-credits teaser scene. By the same token, Deadpool is still a superhero movie. It certainly plays with the tropes of the genre even while firmly a part of it – a little bit like The Incredibles meets Pulp Fiction. It earns its R rating on its use of the F-word alone, to say nothing of the cartoonishly over-the-top ultraviolence, but I thought its lengthy, gratuitous sex scene was actually more tastefully done than the playboy character establishing scene in Guardians of the Galaxy (love that movie, but the “I’ve forgotten your name” line is such a cliche and there was no reason to throw the word whore at the only woman in the group).

Negasonic and Colossus were fantastic supporting characters. They play the straight man to Deadpool’s nonstop sarcasm. They also fuel countless well-aimed X-Men jokes, which would have made them worthwhile in itself.

Between the clever marketing and being a legitimately good movie, I’m not at all surprised that Deadpool has already had such a strong showing at the box office. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, yet, it’s probably worth giving it a shot.

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