I did not plan on seeing Deadpool this weekend. I did not plan on seeing Deadpool next weekend, or the weekend after that, or basically any time. I’ve rarely enjoyed a moment of one of his appearances in print or cartoon. I have friends who love the character, but I just don’t. I figured I would see it eventually, but it would take a friend sitting me down and insisting that I watch it, just like with other crass/stupid comedies I’ve seen (like Pineapple Express or Tropic Thunder). After all, I have several friends who were extremely excited about the movie, and I figured it was a matter of time.
Instead, I went and saw it this morning, at a 10:00 AM showing at the Alamo Drafthouse. In a snowstorm. On little to no sleep. Why? Because there’s now a controversy over whether or not you can see it and be a practicing Catholic. No, really. So it was time for me to take advantage of a federal holiday, see a movie I didn’t really want to see, and then blog about it — so you don’t have to.
Also, the Alamo is an amazing theater. You should visit one if you can, particularly if you like the idea of pub food and drinks being brought right to your seat during the movie. Just be prepared to spend a little extra money as a consequence!
Okay, on with the review. No spoilers at first, then spoilers after the warning graphic.
First, the nudity. That’s what I keep hearing about: nudity, nudity, nudity, some crass stuff, and omigosh full frontal nudity! Male and female!
I expected there to be more nudity as a result. There’s more in half an episode of Game of Thrones than there was in this whole movie. Sure, Game of Thrones brings its own argument, but I think it’s a valid comparison.
And almost all of this was what Ross described as bad nudity, though I can’t say it was particularly evocative. And I’m not some super-resistant monk who never looks at women, either (though some of my non-Catholic friends seem to think I am, and I frequently joke with them about my high Will save). The sex between Wade and Vanessa (one scene, but supposed to be several instances over the course of a year) were . . . well, I was bored. The scene when the characters go into a strip club to find someone had a lot more, but as background — actually, rather furthering the plot, and avoiding what Ross calls the “fig leaf effect.” (Click through on that link to read about why.) The women there would be attractive in another setting, a different movie; as it was, I was far more interested in my hot wings.
(Did I mention I like going to the Alamo? Hot wings, delivered to my seat. They’ll even make them hotter than normal if I ask them to. I actually felt a bit of a burn today.)
The crass humor? Oh, that’s all there. And yes, they went out of their way to bring in the shock value humor. The interesting thing — well, the other interesting thing, besides how surprised everyone was that an R-rated movie actually had R-rated content — was that this was the best crass humor I’ve encountered in an actual movie. Still not my cup of tea, but if you’re able to make me laugh out loud because of that kind of humor, it’s done well.
And yes, I did laugh out loud. It was a very mixed reaction; parts of the movie were completely boring to me, because it’s just not my thing, and other parts were completely hilarious. For those who can enjoy this sort of thing the whole way through, it’s almost perfect. If we were to compare films to paintings, this one would never hang on the walls of the Louvre; but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a work of art in its own way. I may not be a fan of that kind of art, but I can see the skill of the craftsman behind it, in a way that doesn’t normally shine through for comedy movies of this type.
All in all, looking at the body of objectionable material, it doesn’t seem much beyond the sort of “true” R-rated films out there (not just the ones who try to hit the minimum necessary for that rating because they want to seem edgy). You can argue for ratings-creep all you want, but I remember movies almost as old as I am (which means we’re talking mid- to late-80s) that had more gratuitous nudity. The violence is the only thing that’s grown in that regard. You might even be able to draw a comparison there (that we’re just as obsessed with sex as always, it being a vital human drive and not a bad thing per se, but we’re increasingly desensitized to violence), but it easily falls apart (since we’re also in a culture that’s talking about “safe spaces” and thinking it’s a serious subject).
Really, the reaction of the people who are going hysterical over the movie can be summed up in the words of Amanda, in a Deadpool discussion on our Facebook group: “It’s like they went to a movie titled ‘Porn and violence and blood and dismemberment!’ and are shocked it’s all of that.”
If you weren’t planning on going to see the movie, you’re probably not missing anything you’d regret not experiencing. You can safely avoid it. If you’re already planning on seeing it, you’re not going to violate any moral codes from this movie alone; I don’t think anyone really can, without bringing it in to the theater with them. (Always a possibility and danger even with non-R films.) For those of you on the fence, well, you can make an informed choice now.
Okay, on to spoiler territory. This won’t bother anyone who doesn’t want to see the movie, so this is for the rest of you.
I knew this was a Fox film, not Marvel Studios; but I was still surprised to find two X-Men characters in it, as well as the Xavier Institute itself. Despite seeing the Institute twice, we only ever see those two X-Men (Colossus and Negasonic), leading Deadpool to remark “It’s like the studio only had enough money for two.”
Oh, yeah . . . if you’re reading these spoilers without having seen the movie or really have any knowledge of the character, Deadpool is aware of the audience.
He’s not just breaking the fourth wall; he’s actively aware that he’s a fictional character. At one point, he even reaches out to pus the camera away so the audience doesn’t witness something gory; at another, he matter-of-factly refers to “them” (meaning us) when talking to Colossus.
For me, as a non-Deadpool fan, Colossus and Negasonic steal the show . . . especially Negasonic. Her full name is Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and she was a bit character in some of the comics, given a different set of powers in the movie. I seriously want a Negasonic movie now.
In fact, I’ll say this. I will willingly see any movie at least once if the character and actress are in it. I don’t care how bad the reviews are. She’s fun. I don’t think I’ll see Deadpool again, at least in its entirety; but if it comes out on Netflix streaming I’ll watch her scenes just because.
Colossus is a bit more naive than he’s usually portrayed (and he’s already a goody-two-shoes as it is), but that’s played up so that he’s Deadpool’s polar opposite, and it’s done very well. He also has a relevant part for the nudity discussion; if you’ve read Ross’ essay, you know he talked about how character reactions can show insights into those characters like nothing else. In the climatic battle, Colossus is going head-to-head with a super-strong villainous mutant named Angel Dust, and he’s reluctant to go full-bore on her because she’s a woman and he doesn’t want to hurt her. It turns out she’s almost as tough as he is, and stronger, so he eventually lets loose; but after she’s tossed into a pile of junk, she comes out with her top slightly off.
Nothing is seen; Colossus, like the Hulk in the MCU, is a full CGI character, and there’s no issue with keeping his hand firmly between her exposed breast and the camera, no matter which way she moves. Colossus looks away, warning her that she’s showing, and stammering over the words. She looks down, surprised, and thanks him, remarking “that’s very sweet” and re-adjusting herself before doing the obvious: hitting him while his head is politely turned. Colossus has always been a gentlemanly character, even back when he was originally a communist from the Soviet Union and supposed to eschew such behavior as non-egalitarian. It’s a perfect example of what Ross talked about.
It also shows something interesting from an artistic standpoint. Though the characters are using language that wouldn’t normally be used in a superhero-type movie, and though Colossus’ scrupulous boy scout nature is played for laughs, Colossus also shows something else about the film. The writers and director used Colossus, and sometimes other characters, to comment on how some things just aren’t normal. As if, though they never said it outright, the movie wanted to show us that Deadpool’s perspective is colored by his insanity, and that there is such a thing as objective morality.
For example, in the strip club, we hear the next dancer (though we never see her) is named “Chastity.” One of the characters remarks that a more accurate name would be “Irony.” It’s a small point, but the movie didn’t have to have it; it would have been a lot easier and more self-fulfilling to act like morality is for idiots.
In fact, Deadpool goes out of his way to tell the audience that he’s not a hero, and even further out of his way to avoid sounding like Dark Helmet. It’s interesting, since his otherwise-most-recent appearance (on Ultimate Spider-Man) was almost the exact opposite. A bit more kid-friendly when it comes to the R-rated stuff, but not so much when it comes to the choice between the kind of good and evil that isn’t necessarily a problem with the ratings board.
So, again: not the moral travesty that we were promised, from either side. In my considered opinion, while I can’t exactly “recommend” the movie, that’s almost entirely due to my personal tastes, and not any kind of moral judgement. I can only assume that the nay-sayers acting like this is the death of morality thought that “superhero movie” meant “family-friendly.”
Seriously, people. Always check the ratings, okay? They’re there for a reason. And there’s a specific set of criteria for each, so NC-17/X may not mean what you want it to mean. Please exercise appropriate caution with movies, and don’t take your kids to see R-rated films unless you already know what’s in them.