Once Upon a Deadpool is a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2. The film hilariously recreates The Princess Bride with Deadpool reading the story to a grown-up Fred Savage in bed. It's a shameless box office grab that actually works. Once Upon a Deadpool skewers itself mercilessly. The film pokes fun of its obvious plot loopholes, Deadpool 2's success, and Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox. The studio will donate a dollar for every ticket to the F**k Cancer Charity, which has been renamed Fudge Cancer to keep up with the wholesome new theme. The blood, cursing, and drug use is mostly cut, but the film is still insanely violent. The wholesomeness comes with a bullet.

Fred Savage wakes up to find Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) at his bedside. It seems our foul-mouth hero loves The Princess Bride and wants to tell a more family friendly Deadpool 2. Fred Savage, who's an adult, is irate at being kidnapped. He starts to curse like a drunken sailor. This is when Deadpool bleeps any language that will change the rating. This gimmick is hilarious and never gets old. It's used several times to change the meaning of words to infer much naughtier content.

The plot remains largely the same. Wade Wilson and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) have settled comfortably in domestic life. He's a killer by day, devoted boyfriend at night. Everything is just peachy at first, but Deadpool has a tendency to attract conflict. A time traveling super soldier (Josh Brolin) arrives from the future. He's hell bent on finding a young mutant (Julian Dennison). Deadpool needs to understand why, but he doesn't have the firepower to face this new threat. Colossus (Jack Kesy) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) are stalwart allies, but the X-Men don't play dirty enough for this fight. Deadpool decides to recruit his own team of bad asses. A good idea in theory, if Deadpool had any leadership skills.

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Fred Savage jumps in periodically to point out plot holes or failures in the script. This annoys the hell out of Deadpool and keeps the new comedy flowing. A great bit is how women are exploited in the film. It's great to see the writers gloriously trash their own work. Savage also adds a lot of background comic book information to the characters. Deadpool chimes in to agree that Deadpool 2 woefully lacked exposition. Cable is the primary benefactor of the new material. It's pretty damn funny.

The narration scenes are mostly absent from the middle of the film. You get longer scenes at the X-men mansion. Deadpool spends more time chatting up Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna). This would all be useless filler in the R-rated release, but actually adds a bit of warmth to the PG-13 edit. The Fred Savage scenes pretty much equals out the parts that were cut. The film's runtime ends up being shorter, but not noticeably so.

I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the PG-13 edit. Once Upon a Deadpool has enough new humor to warrant seeing. They've also added new post-credits scenes that will absolutely delight fans. These scenes have a whole lot of heart and concern a recently departed legend. The Fox Deadpool cash cow keeps on milking. I just hope it makes a sizable donation to charity.

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Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman