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Now I know what it's like to drink a keg of O'Doul's laced with de-caffeinated sugar-free iced tea in one sitting.

Once Upon a Deadpool is an act of chutzpah worthy of its title character. Unfortunately, there's more gall than entertainment value in this act of unrepentant greed.

Once Upon a Deadpool

75 Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Fred Savage, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy, Eddie Marsan, Shioli Kutsuna, Stefan Kapicic

Director: David Leitch

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of violence and action, crude sexual content, language, thematic elements and brief drug material.

Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

For those who missed Deadpool 2 last summer, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself defending a fellow mutant Russell (Julian Dennison). Deadpool, can heal from just about any wound, even the numerous ones he inflicts on himself, while his younger counterpart dubs himself "Firefist" because he can shoot flames out of his fingertips. Firefist is understandably hot-tempered (pun intended, deal with it!) because he has been held in an orphanage that abuses mutant kids.

He's also threatened by an assassin from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin), who's eager to kill the lad because the angry teenager is likely to become a formidable danger in the years to come.

Most of what you might remember from Deadpool 2 remains, but the violence has been more discreetly edited, and a popular synonym for coupling is gone. There are a few bleeps, some clumsy word replacements and some less subtle double entendres that aren't as funny as the raw version of Deadpool's sarcastic discourse.

Once Upon a Deadpool also features some scenes that were cut from the original version of the movie, and it doesn't take much effort to determine why: They weren't that funny.

In the previous Deadpool movies, Reynolds seemed like an endlessly gushing fountain of vulgar sarcasm. Now we know that good editing is the best friend writers or actors could want. We don't have to hear the jokes that bombed or look at our watches as deleted sequences grind to a halt.

Frankly, much of the fun of Deadpool and Deadpool 2 is the fact the transgressive attitude that runs through every frame. Toning down the language or pixelating Reynolds' Sharon Stone moment from Basic Instinct, dilutes the shock value. This family-friendly version might attract underage viewers who missed the film earlier, but most of them would probably rather Redbox or stream the unexpurgated original than shell out 12 bucks for this inferior experience.

The primary gimmick for this alternate version is a new narrative frame where Deadpool reads his most recent adventure to Fred Savage the way Peter Falk recited The Princess Bride to Savage three decades ago. What might have been an enjoyable trifle on a Blu-Ray gets old quickly on the big screen. While it's nice to see Savage is a healthy and reasonably settled adult, the new framing segments do little to move the existing story along.

The self-referential barbs are funnier as part of Deadpool's original voiceover. You can practically see studio executives eagerly rushing to the bank.

The one moment of sincerity during Once Upon a Deadpool comes during the closing credits when the film's final frames are devoted to Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee. He disarmingly admits that he hoped the comics he wrote would feed his family. Like Disney and 20th Century Fox, he was in it for the money. At least he earned some his cash.

MovieStyle on 12/14/2018

Print Headline: Once Upon a Deadpool

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