Once Upon A Deadpool
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Credit: 20th Century Fox

Once Upon a Deadpool's PG-13 reviews show critics want naughty, not nice

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Dec 13, 2018

Apparently, movie critics prefer their merc with a potty mouth. With 20th Century Fox issuing a PG-13-rated cut of last summer's Deadpool 2 under the title Once Upon a Deadpool, which features a hilarious parody of The Princess Bride, critics aren't exactly finding much to cheer about this holiday season.

Ryan Reynolds brings back a full-grown Fred Savage for the twisted tribute to the 1987 children's classic as a means to give the Regenerating Degenerate an excuse to filter his usually dirty jokes "through the prism of child-like innocence," as Deadpool notes in the recently released trailer. And of course, as he's quick to point out, nobody does child-like innocence better than the Wonder Years star turned TV director-producer.

While the framing device is a novel way to excise our hero's filthier side with a censored edition for the kids (who more than likely have already seen Deadpool's naughtier side via other means), Reynolds and company weren't the first ones to think of it. A Deadpool fan actually suggested the idea a year ago on Twitter, a fact that prompted the actor to call him up over Thanksgiving to talk about what the latter labeled an "insane coincidence."

While parents probably will appreciate the more family-friendly proceedings, the toned-down version is a mixed bag with critics, many of whom would probably prefer the R-rated Deadpool 2 as a stocking stuffer this holiday season than this bedtime story.

Here's a roundup of some of the more notable reviews:

  • "Savage is a great sport about the whole thing, playing along with the film's references to his most enduring onscreen performance while reminding his captor (and us) that he's now a veteran director and producer of episodic TV," writes The Hollywood Reporter. "But the snark from Savage sometimes comes at the expense of the star's own enjoyable self-deprecation… and the film's time-outs to return to the new framing device sometimes interfere with the original version's pacing and balance."

The review adds that "without the bracing shock of Deadpool 2's nastier elements, the script's corny bits are a little harder to swallow."

  • "Saddled with a PG-13 mandate, [violent] scenes are either sanitized (a gruesome opening number has been cleaned up so that Deadpool never lands a punch, even when dozens of men fall at his feet) or snipped into incoherence," observes IndieWire, giving Once Upon a Deadpool a D+. "It’s all a shell of itself, with Fred Savage on hand to occasionally note how weird this all is."
     
  • "It’s a clever cash snatch, though, and actually makes for a mildly funnier film," opines the Toronto Star. "What you’re getting for your entertainment dollar is most of Deadpool 2, with most of the gorier moments and some of the profanity excised or softened (“Fudgsicle” instead of the F-bomb). It’s essentially the airplane edit of Deadpool 2, plus goofy extras."
     
  • "The bottom line is that if you’ve seen Deadpool 2, the new Reynolds/Savage scenes don’t justify a return trip. The reconstructed storyline drags and its progression isn’t helped by the frequent interruptions. If you haven’t seen Deadpool 2, why even bother with this watered-down version?" says ReelViews.
     
  • On the other hand, The Wrap was more sanguine: "These charming sketches take up no more than about 20 minutes of screen time, and beyond that, you’re just watching Deadpool 2 again, albeit with some of the violence trimmed, some of the coarse language covered up, and a brand-new, digitally-inserted tribute to the recently departed Stan Lee."

Once Upon a Deadpool is now in theaters.

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