Released: 12th December
Seen: 19th December
One of the most infamous bad horror movies of the ’80s was a film called Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. The internet knows it mostly because of the infamous “GARBAGE DAY” scene that was a meme a while ago. The movie itself is a barely repackaged copy of the original movie, edited down with interstitial scenes featuring the brother of the main character from the first movie and a psychiatrist who literally go over the events of the original film in detail before moving onto a new story in the second half of the film. Beyond the Garbage Day sequence, there wasn’t much about it that was memorable. At best it was a mediocre cash in that barely tried to differentiate itself from the original and was trying to bank on the media uproar that surrounded the original film in the franchise… so, what if someone took the “Repackage an old movie” idea, used a good movie to do it, but didn’t bother to add any new story elements of any kind and just relied on a marketing gimmick in order to make some money? Turns out, that might work but only up to a certain point.
Once Upon A Deadpool is the original Deadpool 2… literally, that’s all it is. It is the exact same movie from the top of it’s head to the bottom of its shoes, edited down in order to achieve a PG-13 rating by removing all of the uses of the F-word, most of the violence and a few instances of the S-word… though not as many as they claim since the movie states they’re allowed two and I lost count at around a dozen. This was done in part because they wanted to make more money (Hi, it’s called show BUSINESS) but also to raise money for a charity called Fuc… Fudge Cancer, where a dollar from every ticket sold would go to the charity to help those with cancer because… well, as the charity name suggests, cancer can go fudge itself. There is something kind of brilliant about the superhero whose power is cancer being used to help spread awareness of the disease and raise money to fight it. That charity element does raise a valid question, namely “Can I critique this film without sounding like the worst human being alive. I mean come on, it’s literally being made to help people with cancer. Do you hate people with cancer? How could you hate people with cancer? CANCER PEOPLE HATER!” and then tomatoes get thrown in my face and it’s a whole thing so let me answer by saying yes, I can absolutely critique this… and then start running from the incoming tomatoes.
The thing about Once Upon A Deadpool is that a huge element of what it expects people to do is to pay money to see the same film again, except now we have lost a large chunk of this film. Not only have we lost the F-bombs and blood effects (It’s very jarring seeing the opening battle where Deadpool is hacking into people with a chainsaw and just seeing no red sprays at any point) but we’ve also lost jokes and scenes, we even lost the opening credit’s music that, for some reason, isn’t shortlisted for an Oscar. This creates a bit of an editing problem because it’s crystal clear that this film was written, shot and originally edited as an R rated film and by hacking it down to a PG-13 you lose content and you lose some of the comedic rhythms which makes the jokes less effective. So, how to compensate for this problem where large portions of the movie have to be cut in order to get the desired rating? What else, you call legendary child actor Fred Savage to come in and when he says no, you kidnap and tape him to a bed to make him take part in this against his will.
The scenes with Deadpool and Fred Savage talking about just what is happening are the reason to go see this, but they could’ve also popped up easily as a DVD extra without a hassle. The problem is that they aren’t as woven into the main film as they could be, there’s long stretches where we could’ve had them popping in and talking about what we’re seeing and giving more new content, but we don’t get as much as we could. There are some great scenes, including a gag that involves Fred Savage talking about Matt Damon that will genuinely make you laugh harder than the rest of the movie does. The chemistry between Fred and Deadpool is genuinely great and they bounce off each other wonderfully, joking about everything from how this isn’t technically a Marvel film to the Disney buyout of Fox. The problem is there isn’t enough of it to warrant the film’s existence. If you’re going to do an “Original Deadpool 2, but PG-13″ thing then you need to go all out with it. Bleep everything, have more scenes of Fred Savage looking horrified when we cut away from things, digitally black box things, there are ways this could’ve been really amazing, better than the original. Instead, it’s obvious that they added some scenes in one day and did some quick editing that sometimes works, and sometimes really doesn’t.
There are some really interesting additions to this film that are worth congratulating, including a couple of sweet tributes to a certain Stan Lee that are so pointed that only Deadpool could pull that off. There are also some more fun gags with pixelation of body parts or a general good use of cutaways but… again, it’s the original Deadpool 2 but with the teeth violently ripped out of its head. Considering that we only saw the original Deadpool 2 in cinemas 7 months ago, it feels too early to be doing this kind of thing. If any movie franchise could do it, it’s Deadpool… but doing it so quickly is weird. Why not do this with the original film? That one’s an origin story, it’d still work easily to cut it down but… nope, the sequel, because… why? I don’t get why. I’ve tried to understand the why, I don’t understand the why.
Oh, money, I forgot.
This movie does have the slight benefit of proving that a PG 13 version of the original Deadpool 2 could absolutely still work, it pushes the limits of that rating to the very edge but if Disney ends up requiring them to get that rating we now can say that they should be able to pull it off. What’s obvious though is that if they want to pull it off, they’ll need to plan for it to be PG-13. This film could’ve leaned into the concept, just mocked the idea for all it was worth and had more fun with it but as it is, they didn’t even drop their F-bomb when they pointedly stated they had the ability to do it once. I mean come on, you give that one F-bomb to Fred Savage right at the start and then literally make the rest of the movie “Look, we had one F-word and Fred wasted it”. How did they not do that joke? How did they not use their wrap around sections more than they did and really give some content to make this film worth paying for again? It’s not like they had to do that much, it’s a single room and maybe four camera angles with two actors. Hell, hire four cameras and just have the two of them watch the movie and pause it to ad lib jokes, actually make this cut longer and really make it worth people’s while to see.
Look, if you enjoyed the original Deadpool 2 and want to give some money to a charity that’s helping people then sure, go see this movie. I’m sure it’s going to be on DVD, maybe wait for that if you’re unsure that a dozen scenes of adult Fred Savage are worth your time. I’m not going to give this a rating because for starters, it’s not like it’s that much worse than the original Deadpool 2 was so there’s no real point but mostly because it feels weird to give a rating to a film released for a second time with the intent to make money for charity… I just wish they’d put a little more effort into it to actually make something amazing out of this.
Oh, also, stay after the credit’s. There’s something special there that is actually sweet… Oh and yes, every image used in this review, including the header, is from my original review because of Fox get to be lazy, so do I.