Here’s a theory: The reason that spoof movies like AIRPLANE!, TOP SECRET!, and THE NAKED GUN remain popular as they are is not because they necessarily have all the best jokes. It’s because they have the most jokes. I once spent a year working in the editing room of a high-profile studio comedy, seeing up close how a movie that was fairly funny on my first day on the job became significantly less so over the course of the year, as many of the movie’s best jokes were gradually removed for one reason or another — some stemming from reasonable concerns and many others motivated by fear of offending audiences. Fear is never a good operating principle, in my personal opinion — particularly when there’s no way to know exactly who or what is doing the frightening.
Sometimes the strongest solution is overkill. Most modern comedies seem to treat jokes like action scenes, parceling them out somewhat stingily. It’s the reason why HAPPY GILMORE remains charming, while GROWN UPS is so goddamn deadly. Don’t keep us waiting. We came to laugh.
My argument is that a successful comedy film shouldn’t yearn to only have the very best jokes, since that will by nature limit the number. Even a bad joke will keep an audience primed to laugh until the next good one comes along. Bad jokes can serve as seat-warmers. Yes: If you keep an audience waiting for a good joke, by the time it shows up, it sure as hell better be a good one. But if you stuff a movie with jokes, they don’t all have to be the best jokes in the world — some can be funnier than others — the momentum’s the thing. (Movies like DUCK SOUP, DR. STRANGELOVE, BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, ANIMAL HOUSE, GHOSTBUSTERS, ANCHORMAN, BORAT, or FOUR LIONS remain as well-regarded as they are because they have the most jokes and the best jokes, but that’s a different story.)
DEADPOOL has got some groaners, but the movie’s momentum is its super-power, the reason for its success. DEADPOOL just doesn’t stop. The jokes start at the top and they keep coming, and no one can argue that every joke in DEADPOOL is created equal, but neither can anyone argue that the moviemakers aren’t generous with them.
First-time feature director Tim Miller comes from a special-effects background. He oversaw the ninjas in this sequence from SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and most memorably, supervised the striking opening credits sequence from THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. If you liked those sequences, and I did and do, you’ll like this movie. The energy is contagious.
Junkie XL’s pervasive score, which seems inspired as much by Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” [CONFIRMED! — Ed.] as it resembles his own MAD MAX: FURY ROAD techno-orchestrations, is an example of the stupid ingenuity of DEADPOOL. It’s the whole thing in microcosm, in a way. It’s boisterous and silly and relentless and infectious. It wore away any cynicism I harbored about the project — let’s face it, the character was never built to make it this far in popular culture, and couldn’t have existed in the first place if cartoonist Rob Liefeld hadn’t once thought, “Wouldn’t Spider-Man be cooler with gigantic guns and a sword?” — and won me over entirely.
Likewise, you have to respect how committed Ryan Reynolds is to the joke. He basically played Deadpool in BLADE 3 and got to play the real thing in X-MEN: ORIGINS, but that was bizarrely neutered version, and this new DEADPOOL is proof positive persistence pays off, much like alliteration does. The movie’s about as deep as a puddle of spilled Pepsi, but in the words of Waingro, “Da me un refill.” It’s Friday night and you’re in the mood to watch a superhero movie: Quick, do you pick up a Zack Snyder, or a Chris Nolan, or do you go with this one? All three are a little too much movie, but only one is too much in a FUN kind of way.
The sequel comes out on May 17th, 2018. More? Why not?
Latest posts by Jon Abrams (see all)
- [THE BIG QUESTION] WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE ENSEMBLE IN MOVIES? - July 22, 2016
- [IN THEATERS NOW] THE BOY (2016) - January 24, 2016
- Cult Movie Mania Releases Lucio Fulci Limited Edition VHS Sets - January 5, 2016