VICE

HOLIDAY SEASON 2018 MOVIE REVIEW ROUND-UP: VICE, DIVIDE AND CONQUER, MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, THE FAVOURITE, ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL

Published On December 17, 2018 | By Matt Neufeld | FILM REVIEWS

HOLIDAY SEASON 2018 MOVIE REVIEW ROUND-UP

 

Yes, yes, it is indeed that time of year—the holiday season movie rush season wherein so many films are released in a ridiculously, moronically short time, well, there’s absolutely no way that most filmgoers can see every, or even most, of those films. Every year, everyone complains—including film producers, directors, writers, actors and others in the industry, in addition to filmgoers—about the glut of movies hurriedly, crazily, irritatingly released during the too-short, too-rushed holiday season, and—every year, absolutely no one in Hollywood listens. Because every year, there are simply too many films released in too short a time during the holiday season. It’s just too much. It’s that way this year, 2018. It was that way last year, 2017. And it was even that way five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen years ago, twenty years ago—okay, okay, you get the point. Or, you know the point. It doesn’t even matter—on one level– that every year most of the holiday season films are actually excellent films worth seeing in the theaters—that’s a given, as this is not only the holiday season, but the so-called prestige film season, the so-called awards season, and, yes, a season brimming with the possibility of big box office bucks. However, even if every film released during the holiday season was an instant classic—that’s never the case—the glut would still be moronic because, again, there’s just no way that most people can see most or all of these films. And, of course, every year—sadly, depressingly, horribly–some great films get lost in the holiday movie season shuffle, they are not seen, they disappear from the zeitgeist, and great film work goes unrecognized and unheralded, which is a low down, dirty shame.

So don’t panic or stress out if you see a glut of great movies that you want to see this holiday season, and you can’t possibly see most of them, because it’s not your fault that Hollywood honchos simply do not listen to, and do not hear, the cries of the filmic masses every year, and they instead just blindly go ahead and release way too many movies during far too short a time, again. It’s no different this year, 2018, as numerous quite-excellent films are being released from late November to late December. Most of them are worth seeing—some more than others, but most of them are indeed worth seeing. Herewith, then, below are some capsule reviews of five films that are being released during the 2018 holiday season. “Vice” leads the pack of all of the films in this particular round-up to see first, boosted greatly by the simple horrific true background and nightmarish truth at the ugly center of the story it tells about criminality, corruption. lies, deceit, cover-ups, deception and outright murder—all conducted by the president, vice president, defense secretary, secretary of state and senior-level political, national security, defense and intelligence advisers of the United States government.

 

VICE
Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons
Written by Adam McKay
Directed by Adam McKay
Produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Megan Ellison, Kevin J. Messick, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Cinematography by Greig Faser
Edited by Hank Corwin
Music by Nicolas Britell

 

Everyone on earth needs to run out to the movie theaters and see “Vice” this holiday season. And then take two aspirin and call your psychologist in the morning—even if you don’t have a psychologist. Because you’re going to need one—or at least some type of soothing reassurance from a trusted loved one—after watching this movie. And that’s a compliment—and a reason to see the film. Adam McKay’s excellent, entertaining, smart, deeply-researched, suspenseful, funny, dramatic, eye-opening—and, truly, absolutely horrifying—true-to-life feature film about the corrupt presidential administration of George W. Bush and the unhinged, unstable, largely secretive and allegedly criminal backroom and heavily redacted machinations of evil darklord vice president Dick Cheney exposes the dark dossier of crimes against humanity and the world that were routinely carried out by the Bush and Cheney administration. To list them all would take another, longer article—and several thousands of words—but, as “Vice” clearly and sanely and confidently documents, the Bush and Cheney administration, for eight long years, continually lied, cheated, stole, killed, broke the law, operated out of the public eye, broke the law again, fabricated stories, lied to the American public, lied to the world’s public, started a psychotic war that never should have been started, misled the public, broke the law yet again, and generally operated a machinery of corruption, deceit, lies and criminality it’s a wonder most of the Bush administration’s Cabinet didn’t end up in jail.

In fact, “Vice” forces the world to face that question: Why didn’t Bush administration officials be investigated, charged, found guilty, sentenced—and locked away in some black ops prison center run by one of the Bush and Cheney administration’s many big-corporate cronies due to the many crimes that they committed? Because, as history has already shown and as “Vice” serves to back up, support and once again make clear to the world in support of that history: The Bush and Cheney administration operated, again, as one long criminal enterprise, broke the law many times, lied repeatedly to the public thousands of times–and went so far as to create a murky, unclear blueprint for a non-existent war conflict, subsequently start an unneeded and still-mysterious actual war conflict, and ultimately contribute to the death—the death!—of at least 4,424—that’s four thousand, four hundred and twenty-four!—American soldiers and the death—the death!—of an estimated 193,965 Iraqi civilians—look at that number again—according to The Iraq Body Count Project.

In addition to that, the Bush-Cheney administration did absolutely nothing progressive to advance the United States in education, farming, agriculture, justice, health, gay rights—despite the fact that one of Dick Cheney’s daughters is gay, energy, renewable energy, the environmental, global warming, climate change, healthcare, the economy, trade, or even foreign relations, and in fact either stalled progressive policies and programs, worked against them, or squashed bills that would have moved issues forward on modern-day, progressive level. All of this is portrayed in “Vice,” with the focus on how Dick Cheney, as one of the most secretive, corrupt, questionable, deceitful and scheming—and paranoid and unstable—vice presidents in the history of the United States led the charge during the second Bush administration to, well, uh, er, well, it’s still not really clear what he was actually doing. As “Vice” shows, most of what drove Cheney was a lust for crazed power, a goal of working against anything modern-day, forward-thinking or progressive, and to work on policies that clearly enriched and empowered big corporations, big industry, the energy, coal, gas and oil industries, the military-industrial complex, and rich corporate donors, backers and supporters. Really.

Ah, you yell defiantly, these are the ramblings of an anti-Bush, anti-Cheney liberal leftie pinko commie hippie detractor who is peeling off biased political rantings of his own. Nothing could be further from the truth. And that is the truth because, during the years since the end of the Bush-Cheney administration, troves of unearthed documents, papers, revelations from those involved, court papers, government papers, journalistic investigations, criminal investigations and other academic, governmental, investigative and journalistic documentaries, studies, stories, articles, and research projects have worked to shed some needed bright lights on the crazy workings of that continually troubled administration. That administration did lie, that administration did cheat, that administration did start a war conflict based on untrue information, that administration did operate under shady, lying, criminal actions, that administration did lose or destroy thousands of government documents and e-mails, and, right at the center of all of this, that administration’s vice president—Dick Cheney—was pulling the puppet strings, like some crazed government godfather, ordering this and that, directing this or that, all the while doing all that he could to keep the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice-Powell-Hughes-Gonzales-Scalia-Bolton-Wolfowitz-Libby-Rove-Addington family of governmental mafia goons, goombahs and goofballs protected, connected and untouched by investigators, who, to their credit, were indeed always lurking at the meeting doors during those terrifying eight years. It was Cheney—I know it was you, Dick! I know it was you!—who pulled those strings to keep this family operating, but it was also Cheney who was slowly, surely, terrifyingly, pulling the United States, and by extension the world, increasingly close to the brink on many levels.

And this is all true.

And this is the story told so crazily, horrifying well in the excellent film “Vice,” written, co-produced and directed by the wonderfully investigative film director Adam McKay, who continually shows how intense research, time, archiving, documenting, interviewing and journalism can enrich true-story feature films. McKay similarly showed this talent in the wonderful, and wonderfully similar true-life feature film story “The Big Short,” which equally excellently exposed the rampant lies, corruption, deceit, deception and criminal activity that has existed, and still exists, in the financial, mortgage, banking, stocks, bonds, financial advising and real estate industries. Just like McKay took down and exposed the corruption and criminality that existed in the financial world, he accomplishes the same goals with government and politics in “Vice.”

The film is simply well-written—sharp, insightful, important, relevant, timely and well-researched; well-directed—McKay directs, again, much like he did in “The Big Short,” with an eclectic, most unique and most original manner, pulling all manners of filmic surprises here and then and expertly mixing drama, tragedy and humor to create talky movies that are intensely entertaining and captivating; and “Vice” is well-produced, with an excellent extensive cast that ably—and wondrously—portrays some real-life folks in believable manners that don’t dip down to caricature, and present these various oddball politicians in humanistic manners, and excellently-created set, production and art design that create true-to-life, detailed governmental and political offices here and there in D.C., including the White House, underground bunkers, situation rooms, conference rooms, the Oval Office, the Defense Department, Congress, and other governmental sets. Anyone who’s been to any of these governmental buildings will recognize them in the film as appearing authentic, and not over-the-top Hollywood recreations.

The same goes for the excellent cast. Christian Bale is wholly a revelation—and he turns in a bravura performance—as Dick Cheney. That’s right—that Christian Bale, the Batman, suave, debonair leading man Christian Bale. Taking on a tub of prosthetics and make-up and gaining pounds of weight and simply undergoing one of the better and believable physical transformations in recent memory—aside, of course, from superhero/comic book/fantasy/horror/sci-fi monster make-up mashes—Bale suddenly ages from a young bronco buck whoppin’ it up as a hard-drinkin’, hard-fightin’ lineman out in the wilds of Wyoming to the Darth Vader-like vice president Dick Cheney, all hushed, deliberate, whispered voice, slow and deliberate physical moves and presence, that short white hair, those Dr. Strangelove-evoking glasses, that bald head. Bale becomes Cheney, and it is truly horrifying. Horrifying not just because of how Bale looks like Cheney, but horrifying due to the creepy, eeiry mannerisms, posturing, voices—and actions—that Cheney adopts to accomplish his missions. Bale is revelatory as Cheney, and it’s always fascinating to watch—even if the viewer is supposed to hate Cheney at every turn.

Along for the wild ride are some equally entertaining performances. Sam Rockwell is a hoot and a holler as George W. Bush, whether he’s sitting at his governor’s and president’s desk with his feet on the desk, seemingly oblivious to what’s going on in the world, or chomping down on some barbeque chicken while agreeing to let Cheney run the country, or while he’s completely confused—along with everyone else—when Cheney suggests that the United States invade Iraq after the 2001 terrorist attacks, even after most senior-level government advisers sit there stunned and note that there’s no clear reason to invade Iraq. So, naturally, Cheney led United States government operates to invade Iraq. Steve Carell has an equally hootable time as the wild and weird and socially awkward Donald Rumsfeld, a person who keeps landing in senior-level government positions despite barely anyone actually liking him, believing in him or even supporting him. Carell plays the character, again, not as a caricature, but he still lets some sly humor come out. That’s the same approach that Rockwell takes with Bush. And a bevy of actors equally portray the rest of the Bush administration with a similar, equal mix of real-life portrayal, supported by some needed humor, quirks and personifications that all seem to say to the viewer: Yes, these are actually real people, but it’s somewhat unclear what all of these people were doing in government, why they were there, or, after awhile, if any of them were actually qualified to be there. Especially entertaining is Tyler Perry in brief scenes as a confused Colin Powell, who always seems to be thinking, “I left the safe structure of the military…for this?”

And then there’s Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Dick Cheney’s wife. Lynne Cheney is no stay-in-the-background, stand-by-your-man wallflower, and that’s for sure. Adams plays Lynne Cheney as a whirlwind powerhouse force of…something. She sticks by Cheney even as things continually start to go south, nationally and internationally. She shields Dick Cheney from enemies. She works against others. She bad-mouths perceived enemies. She writes books. She leads arts organizations. She is right there, as Dick Cheney’s partner in crime. It’s a baffling real-life situation, and Adams portrays this complex, bizarre person full-on, with a take-charge attitude that leaves no question that Lynne Cheney was just as complicit in the family’s business as Dick Cheney, she did ask about the family business, and it’s clear that Dick did indeed talk about the family business with his wife.

The hair, make-up and prosthetics artists on “Vice” are to be praised, as all of the main characters are aged progressively throughout the film, and the work is an achievement.

“Vice” is shocking in its revelation of authentic government corruption, but the film does remain entertaining, enthralling and fascinating on many levels. “Vice” will have filmgoers leaving the theaters wondering about many issues, and discussing many issues–which is great, of course. But be forewarned—the film may also have viewers reaching for those aspirins.

 

DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES
Directed by Alexis Bloom
Produced by Alexis Bloom, Will Cohen
Cinematography by Charlotte Kaufman, Antoni Rossi
Film editing by Pax Wasserman
Music by Will Bates

 

Filmgoers exiting “Divide and Conquers: The Story of Roger Ailes” may have the same “Vice”-like post-film feelings as they leave this also-excellent documentary feature from director and co-producer Alexis Bloom—and that, again, is a compliment. Because, although it’s a journalistic documentary film and not a feature film, “Divide and Conquer” similarly shows how political goombah Roger Ailes similarly ran a continuing corruption enterprise that was a corruption of the mind, of truth, of fooling people, of telling lies, and of, continually, deceiving and lying to the public, stretching the truth and peddling bias, hate, prejudice, hatred and divisiveness in the name of simply working to empower far-right-wing, conservative, Republican politicians. And that’s not political bias, either, but the truth. Ailes started working the Nixon presidency, and his lies, and deceitfulness appropriately started there. His political dirty work continued with Reagan, Bush I and Bush II—helping all of them to stretch the truth, lie, deceive and twist and distort information, to emit bias and prejudice, and, as the title of the documentary states, divide and conquer. All to put right-wing people in positions of power—but not necessarily with the intent to support or enrich political programs to actually help people or the country.

And then, after a long career of political backroom machinations and operations, Ailes suddenly worked with broadcast magnate Rupert Murdoch to create Fox News, which ultimately became known as a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and not really a traditional, objective news organization. Ailes used his government connections, his propaganda tendencies and his ability to, well, divide and conquer, and he worked to increase Fox News to be a contender in the basic cable news wars. Soon, Fox News was full of people yelling and screaming, screaming and yelling, at each other on the tube at night, or during the day, all the while logging huge financial gains for Murdoch, Ailes, Fox News and advertisers.

However, there was another dark side to Ailes—he was an alleged serial sexual abuser. In the 2000s and 2teens, allegations started circulating that Ailes was allegedly sexually abusing a series of people, and abusing his power to the point where he was eventually forced out of Fox News and into retirement. Ailes died about a year after his forced retirement.

Bloom tells this sad—and frightful—story superbly in “Divide and Conquer” in an extensively-researched, well-interviewed, well-documented and well-paced documentary film that, much like “Vice,” is entertaining—but also horrifying in exposing and displaying the evil deeds of an evil man, and the ruin and wreckage that that evil created in society.

Two aspirins up for “Divide and Conquer,” too.

 

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce
Written by Beau Willimon
Based on “Queen of Scots: The Life of Mary Stuart” by John Guy
Directed by Josie Rourke
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward
Cinematography by John Mathieson
Edited by Chris Dickens
Music by Max Richter

 

Josie Rourke’s excellent—yes, it’s a great holiday film season for great films in 2018—“Mary, Queen of Scots” merely takes the same types and levels of morbid governmental true-life behind-the-scenes idiocy and criminality displayed in “Vice” and “Divide and Conquer” and moves everything across the ocean to the equally-vile, equally-corrupt and equally-insane back rooms of crazily competing royal families in England and Scotland several hundred years ago, in the 1560s. Watching “Mary, Queen of Scots,” it’s somewhat comforting to know that crazy, corrupt and criminal governmental administrations existed five-hundred years ago, too—and it’s not just modern-day folks who have to put up this craziness. Of course, we all know that governmental corruption has existed throughout history, but “Mary” makes a point of presenting the 1560s conflicts in Great Britain as a clear symbol of the craziness of modern-day political in-fighting, and sends a scary lesson that even after five-hundred years, governments still can’t learn much, still fight like crazy, and still are blinded by power and ambition, with the cost always ending up on the heads of the masses, who suffer while those in authority bicker, banter, fight, scheme—and back-stab, double-cross, lie, and play office and political and mind games that, in the end, accomplish absolutely nothing.

All of that goes on, and then some, in “Mary, Queen of Scots,” as that Mary, the queen of Scotland, played expertly by a captivating, energetic Saoirse Ronan, battles for control of her land against her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, equally excellently portrayed by an equally captivating Margot Robbie, who is trying to maintain control of her land. Mary and Elizabeth and their various cohorts, aides, advisers, court officials and family members engage in one big, complex—and crazy—political and governmental chess match, each moving their pieces of scheming plans and plots and battles and office and palace and royal operations here and there, at one point trying to maintain peace, at one point trying to destroy each other, at one point seemingly and confusing simply not knowing what to do at all.

If it all didn’t actually happen, these series of political and power moves by all of these competing people in Scotland England would have serious credibility problems, but since it did happen, the machinations serve to be symbolic, again—just like in “Vice” and in “Divide and Conquer”—of how absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. Mary, although the more down-to-earth, sane, grounded, popular and reasonable of the two, still cannot gain control over her battling and bickering and scheming aides and advisers, still makes bad decisions, and still cannot even come to some type of sane peace agreement with her cousin. Mary seems to be the one to lead the people to revolution, but, in the end, she simply can’t gain the control and the trust of those around her. Elizabeth, consumed with disease and the same types of fighting and battling aides and advisers, slowly loses her mind, loses her power—and loses control of her kingdom. She devolves into a sad, sorry caricature of herself, she attacks her cousin’s lands, she lets corrupt advisers take advantage of her—there’s that theme again—and, ultimately—and it’s no spoiler alert, because, well, it’s history—she orders the beheading of Mary. Imagine if that still existed—most of the politicians in the world would be beheaded, and there would be a cottage industry for head-resting chopping blocks, powerful head-splitting axes, and head-beheading executioners!

Ronan and Robbie are superb playing these troubled Middle Age women, and the complexity and strangeness of their unique political status is apparent in the actresses’ portrayals. While Mary and Elizabeth were indeed queens and royal leaders of their respective lands, they were women who still faced blatantly sexist, biased and prejudiced attitudes—and suspicions and distrust—toward them by the many confused, angered, conflicted, jealous—and corrupt—men all around them. Some of the machinations conducted behind-the-royal-scenes against Mary and Elizabeth were indeed carried out by misogynistic, pig-headed, male-chauvinist, jealous and outright childish men who just simply hated the fact that a woman, or two women, were in royal power.

That’s just one of the many lessons displayed clearly in the smart script of “Mary” by Beau Willimon, which is based on the book “Queen of Scots: The Life of Mary Stuart,” by John Guy. Willimon includes many valuable lessons, morals and themes in “Mary”—the corruption of power itself, the evils of political and royal corruption that stretch out from that basic corruption, the divides between the sexes and how that carries over into office, business, governmental and political management and operations, the inability of people to simply sit down and talk things out, even on a complex, multi-nation, power-struggle level, and, quite importantly, in the end, the complete ridiculousness and foolhardiness of kings, queens, princes, princesses—and the entire royal family structure. “Mary” displays just how ridiculous—and dangerous—the entire royal structure is, and the film raises the questions about the entire manner in which royal structures operate, and why they are even needed in the first place. The entire craziness of the political and psychological battles between Mary and Elizabeth, in the end, serve no real purpose or greater good for the women’s respective countries. It’s just, again, absolute power corrupting absolutely. And everyone knows that there’s no sense in that for anyone.

“Mary, Queen of Scots” ends with Mary beheaded, and her kingdom and power structure essentially in ruins, and with Elizabeth suffering mental illness, alone, reviled and widely-hated. They end up with their political battles actually accomplishing not much of anything, both lands in ruins—and one cousin dead and the other driven slightly crazy by that action and by her royal status. In the end, there’s not much to root for or like about Elizabeth, and you just feel sad and sorry about Mary. And the fact that the film is done so well and is so entertaining—despite the tragedy of the lead characters and the general unlikability of Elizabeth, is a testament to the abilities of director Josie Rourke, Willimon, Ronan, Robbie, and, it should be noted, a strong, talented cast. And the period production design—castles, chambers, offices, costumes, hair, make-up, carriages, horses, sets, props–are equally superb.

Filmgoers may not like Elizabeth much, and they may feel sad for Mary, but they will enjoy the film about their tragic lives.

 

THE FAVOURITE
Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn
Written by Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Produced by Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Yorgos Lanthimos
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Cinematography by Robbie Ryan
Edited by Yorgos Mavropsaridis

 

Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” aspires to be what “Mary, Queen of Scots” achieves so well, but, alas, the film falters by falling too far into its own dark explorations of political, governmental and royal game playing, lying, excess, deceitfulness, power plays, office games, palace games, and, well, general royal court childishness. Because while “Vice,” “Mary” and “Divide” show these political machinations so well, bolstered by research, documentation, journalistic investigating and just pure high-quality filmmaking at all levels, “The Favourite” falters due to a slightly juvenile, jumpy script, an uneven story, and, most important, three lead characters that are horribly unlikable. Yes, Cheney and Ailes and Elizabeth were unlikable in “Vice,” “Divide” and “Mary,” but those films had an underlying lightness, breeziness, sharpness, intelligence, humor and overall likability to them that lifted the movies up on all levels. However, “Favourite” seems to wallow too much in its characters sicknesses, mental illnesses, jealousy, power plans, temper tantrums, childishness, juvenile tendencies—and again, unlikability—that, in the end, it’s difficult for the filmgoer to care much about what happens to any of them.

“The Favourite” is about a very closed-in, too-royal-centric, in-house royal court power play among three very confused, conflicted and power-mad women during the early 18th century reign of Queen Anne in England. It’s 1708, and Anne—who’s sick and confused and slowly losing her mind, much like Elizabeth—is largely a hermit confined to her royal chambers, eating, being sick and lounging around while her country is at war with France. Sarah Churchill, Anne’s main adviser and aide, actually conducts most of the country’s business for Anne—much to the jealousy and anger of the many equally-confused men in Anne’s court, or political offices. Meanwhile, Sarah and Anne are also secret lovers—something somewhat frowned upon in early 1700s England. That’s enough for an interesting political story right there, but the country’s political operations are further complicated when Sarah’s cousin, Abigail, arrives to work as an aide for the queen. Abigail soon starts to politically, psychologically and even criminally starts to battle Sarah for the affections of Anne, and for—again—increased power. And Abigail also maneuvers to start a sexual affair with the queen, too. All with the goal of driving out Sarah and taking over Sarah’s positions.

Thus, you have a sick, ailing, deteriorating and slightly insane queen and two of her aides all battling each other for power, affection, attention, sex and political standing. On paper and by description, the story sounds great for a film. But, again, the queen, Sarah and Abigail act in such childish, unlikable ways, the story and the script don’t present much reason to care about them. In the end, their machinations and mind games in “Favourite” do not come across as symbols of a great power system or operation run amok, but as merely the immature, jealous and unstable workings of three possibly mentally-unstable and generally-questionable people.

In the end, Anne veers toward being completely bonkers, Sarah is banished from the queen’s court, and Anne discovers the true, awful nature of Abigail—leaving all three of these sad monsters alone and, once again, with absolutely nothing to show for all of their back-room stupidity.

One positive regarding “The Favourite” is that the film does indeed provide yet another lesson about the stupidity of corruption, the ridiculous of the royal structure, and how, often, in the end, all of that political maneuvering can lead to only destruction and despair.

 

ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T. J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy, Fred Savage
Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Directed by David Leitch
Based on Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld
Produced by Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner
Cinematography by Jonathan Sela
Edited by Dirk Westervelt, Craig Alpert, Elisabet Ronaldsdottir
Music by Tyler Bates

 

“Once Upon a Deadpool” has to be one of the oddest, most commercially crass—and most ill-conceived—movie ideas in ages: a re-edited version of an R-rated movie that ends up being a PG-13 version of an R-rated movie whose entire being, structure, purpose, quality, uniqueness and originality rest mainly, primarily and soley upon—-that movie being an R-rated movie. Which makes the production and release of a PG-13 version of what’s primarily intended as an R-rated movie completely ridiculous. Actually, this release of the PG-13 “Once Upon a Deadpool” during the same year as the R-rated “Deadpool 2” comes across mostly as nothing more than a crass, commercial, money-grubbing exercise in deceit—which stands 100 percent against everything that the original “Deadpool” and its 2018 sequel, “Deadpool 2,” stand for. “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2” are confidently, assuredly anti-commercial—even though both films made a ton of money and huge profits—and anti-corporate in their decidedly—and welcome–R-rated, rauchiness, satire, parody, over-the-top violence, in-jokes, in-put-downs, pop culture references and overall anti-establishment, anti-authority tones and approaches.

Thus, to make a PG-13 version of what’s intended and supposed to be an R-rated movies just doesn’t work in the end. The creative team behind “Once Upon a Deadpool” tried to jazz things up and funny things up with a segment involving Fred Savage and a parody of Savage’s appearance in Rob Reiner’s and William Goldman’s “The Princes Bride” all those years ago in 1987. But that doesn’t work, either—there’s even long stretches without Savage and that gimmick, and filmgoers end up just watching again a toned-down, less-effective, re-edited version of “Deadpool 2.” Which, again, doesn’t make much sense.

Yes, “Once” gives parents a chance to take kids to see a PG-13 version of “Deadpool 2.” However, those parents—and even those kids—will end up sitting in the theaters just wondering what on earth they are watching, because it’s too apparent watching “Once” that, instead, everyone should indeed be enjoying the R-rated version that is “Deadpool 2.” Because “Deadpool 2” is what the film is supposed to be. The PG-13 re-edited version simply does not work.

If you’re wondering what all of this is about, just simply watch the original, R-rated version of “Deadpool 2”—and have a good time.

Happy holidays to everyone!

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