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Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for Deadpool who had decided to kidnap Fred Savage for his new cut of Deadpool 2. First things first: Once Upon a Deadpool is not a new film. This is the same Deadpool 2 that was released earlier in the year, but now as a PG-13 cut that is told in the vein of The Princess Bride. What could be seen as a cash grab – – and understandably so, considering this is the second new cut of the film we’ve gotten this year – – ends up being a rather fun experiment of what you can do with the Deadpool character.
If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, you know exactly what you’re getting to. I originally reviewed it back in May, and the film itself hasn’t changed much outside of the new structure. The idea of Deadpool trying to censor himself for a younger audience, and using Fred Savage to do so is actually pretty clever. The Princess Bride is a very beloved film, so taking a page out of its book – – pun fully intended – – actually breathes a bit of fresh air into the proceedings. If anything, the best thing about the new cut of the film is the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage, which ends up being really, really funny. The two banter back and forth in a way that makes you feel like they’ve being doing this forever, and it adds a sense of extra levity to an already pretty light film. It’s great that Savage is willing to poke fun at his career so much throughout the proceedings, which adds an extra layer of fun for those who have watched him grow both in front of and behind the camera.
The thing about Once Upon a Deadpool that inevitably is going to come up for many is what’s the point of watching the film if you’ve already seen it before. Is this new cut any better than the one we already got? And honestly, the answer is a bit of a tricky one because it depends on what you’re looking for in the film. The truth is, the film really doesn’t stand on its own, because seeing the theatrical cut honestly makes the movie play better. As fun as the new cut is, at times it can be jarring and feel a bit jumbled, like it’s moving too fast. But having the knowledge of the film’s previous cut, it helps alleviate most of those problems. They’ve also added in many of the film’s deleted scenes, some from the already released extended cut, to help flesh out the story where other things were cut out to try and achieve the PG-13 rating. Some of those scenes are a welcome addition, a few from the suicide montage come to mind, but for the most part, they don’t add a whole lot.
Outside of that, the other question is just how PG-13 is this film, and is it suitable for kids. The answer really comes down to this: this is still a Deadpool film. Does it feel more tame than the original? Yes. However, the movie still really straddles that line of R, meaning it really isn’t suitable for the younger crowd it’s aimed at. And really, how many kids have seen The Princess Bride and will understand this very meta presentation to begin with? My guess, not that many, which isn’t a problem, but this cut is clearly made for older fans of the character even with the PG-13 repackaging.
Once Upon a Deadpool is a fun experiment that definitely gets some good laughs from the new material in play. Reynolds and Savage are fantastic together, and The Princess Bride bookends are a lot of fun. However, to get the full effect of the film, you really need to have seen the R rated cut, as the two pair together and compliment each other, instead of being their own versions of the film. Fans of Deadpool can rest easy though knowing their favorite Merc with a Mouth is still having the time of his life on the big screen, and for that, what more can you ask for?