Here’s the question you came here to have answered: is the "PG-13" re-release of Deadpool 2, retitled Once Upon a Deadpool, worth seeing in the cinema? The answer is “Yes!” But also “No.” It depends. Read on.
For those of you thinking “WTF is Once Upon a Deadpool?” here’s a quick refresher. (Skip if you know this part.) It’s a re-release of this year’s hit R-rated film Deadpool 2, re-edited so that it’s PG-13 and interspersed with scenes that pay homage to The Princess Bride by having Deadpool kidnap Fred Savage so he’s a captive audience to the re-telling of the story. Well, it's a PG-13 in the US – but it's still a 15 over here.
Anyway. “Yes,” it’s worth seeing because it’s for charity. That’s a great thing. What’s also great is that writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds hold nothing back in the film’s dozen or so new interludes, which probably last 15-20 minutes or so in total. These run the gamut from extended subplots to brief, one-word cutaways. (There’s also not one, not two, but three additional credit scenes.) During these new scenes, Savage and Deadpool obviously make lots of meta pop culture jokes, but also comment on the shortcomings of the film itself. These include jokes about “lazy writing,” a discussion on the handling of Cable (played by Josh Brolin), as well as some thoughts on the widely criticized “fridging” of Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. The added scenes are, for lack of a better word, savage.
It probably goes without saying, but because the Fred Savage scenes are new and Deadpool 2 is not, they are by far the best thing about Once Upon a Deadpool. They’re so good that, during the film, I found myself checking my watch, waiting for Savage to reappear. If you are curious at all about these scenes, you should see them. They deliver.
Fred Savage is awesome in Once Upon a Deadpool.
So what about the reasons to maybe not see Once Upon a Deadpool? Well, because those Fred Savage scenes, unfortunately, are not the majority of what’s on screen. The majority of what’s on screen is just Deadpool 2, but worse. Now, I like Deadpool 2 a lot. I especially like the way it not-so-subtly becomes a heartfelt family film among all the carnage, and that through line is still in there. However, cutting all the violence and cursing, and then adding in new scenes, removes a lot of the connective tissue in the film. The main story feels way more disjointed and confusing than it is in its true form. It’s simply not as good a movie as the original.
That true form is a little mutated, too, because Once Upon a Deadpool isn’t just a straight re-edit of Deadpool 2. It features some extended scenes, newly recorded dialogue, digital touch-ups (mostly blood removal), and alternate (cleaner) versions of scenes to make everything PG-13. All of this really dulls Deadpool’s edge – and you soon realise that Deadpool without cursing and blood is simply not as cool.
Still, if you’re a Deadpool fan, it’s actually an interesting experiment to watch Once Upon a Deadpool. To pick out the changes. To laugh out loud at the newly filmed Fred Savage stuff. Unlike Deadpool 2 itself, though, Once Upon a Deadpool feels like more of a throwaway than an actual movie. It’s doubtful you’d watch the whole thing a second time, except maybe by fast-forwarding to the new bits. So, if you are OK paying the price of a movie ticket to see an inferior version of a movie you’ve already seen, with about 15 minutes of really great new stuff, go see Once Upon a Deadpool.