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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Once Upon a Deadpool is an edited, toned-down version of Deadpool 2 with an additional framing device in which Wade/Deadpool holds Fred Savage hostage and reads him the movie's story, Princess Bride-style. There are some other extra/re-tooled scenes, too; definitely watch through the end of the credits for bonus scenes and a special tribute to the late Stan Lee. In this (somewhat) kinder, gentler edition of the movie, the most obvious differences are the tamer language and sex and substantially decreased violence. There's still plenty of fighting (plus explosions, characters on fire, etc.), but not much gore -- though you do see Deadpool get torn in half and his parts exploding. He also tries to kill himself multiple times, even though he knows he can't succeed. Language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and a full range of other salty words (as well as jokes about sex offenders and bondage/sex toys), but the F-bombs are omitted or humorously bleeped out. Eagle-eyed fans will catch a host of other little differences, but overall this is the same movie -- with a funny, nostalgic nod to a family classic.
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What's the story?
ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL isn't just Deadpool 2 with the swear words and ultra-gory violent scenes edited out: It reframes the story as a bedtime tale that Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is telling to none other than actor/director Fred Savage, who happens to be bound on a bed in a room that looks just like his character's from The Princess Bride. Deadpool and Fred have many asides as the snarky antihero tells the angst-filled story of how a heartbreaking loss sent him first into a tailspin and then into the waiting, eager arms of his X-Men pal Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), who enlists Deadpool/Wade Wilson as an "X-Men trainee." When things go south during a confrontation with angry 14-year-old mutant Russell/"Firefist" (Julian Dennison), Wade finds himself in mutant prison with the young fire-starter and ends up butting heads (and weapons) with Cable (Josh Brolin), a super-serious cyborg soldier from the future. The new enemies reluctantly team up when Russell forms an unlikely alliance with massive mutant supervillain Juggernaut.
Is it any good?
Cynics might call it a blatant cash-grab, but this retooled, less graphic take on Deadpool 2 is a more accessible, still entertaining version of the sequel. Not only does it add the new Savage/Reynolds scenes, but there are also extra scenes with the sequel's cast. And $1 from each ticket sold during the movie's late 2018 theatrical release will go to the charitable organization Fudge Cancer (since, without his superpowers, Wade is dying of the disease). This cut tones down -- but definitely doesn't eliminate -- the raunchy jokes and four-letter words, but Deadpool's trademark humor is still in full force, and the Princess Bride homage is funny enough to charm anyone familiar with Rob Reiner's family classic. (At one point, Deadpool narrates his and Vanessa's passionate kiss and then pauses meaningfully for Savage to object that kissing is gross, but of course the actor replies that he's now a grown man.)
There are also lots of self-deprecating jokes -- not only about Reynolds and his career and Canadian heritage, but also about the flaws and plot holes of Deadpool 2 (most of which Savage points out). It's those little extras that save the movie from feeling completely unnecessary. Plus, parents who weren't ready for their middle schoolers to see the R-rated cut are more likely to be able to enjoy this version with their kids, knowing that teens can still see the original when it's eventually appropriate. This film is kind of like the popular "young readers edition" versions of best-selling books such as Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat -- kids could just wait until they're mature enough to handle the original material, but the editing and extras offer families an option for younger, eager fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Once Upon a Deadpool. How does it compare to the original version of the film (if you've seen it)? How does Deadpool's humor affect or mitigate the violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
For those who've seen both the original and the re-edited version: What difference(s) did you like most? What do you think the motive was to release a tamer cut?
Is Wade/Deadpool a role model? How about Cable, Colossus, Vanessa, and the other supporting characters?
- In theaters: December 12, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: January 15, 2019
- Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison
- Director: David Leitch
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Friendship
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, crude sexual content, language, thematic elements and brief drug material
- Last updated: January 10, 2020
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