‘Deadpool 2’ makes fun of everybody, and it’s awesome

Deadpool 2 is an overwhelming experience. In other words, I laughed a lot and that’s with only registering three quarters of the jokes, pop culture references, Marvel slams, DC Film slams, and all the other humor jammed into this two-hour action comedy blast starring the one and only Ryan Reynolds.

I say one and only because no one could pull off Wade Wilson-the merc with a mouth who needs a microphone and a sold-out Madison Square Garden stage-but Reynolds. The Canadian-born actor resuscitated his static career by replaying a character he helped malign in Wolverine: Origins back in 2009. By giving Deadpool a new coat of paint and replacing everything under the hood that 20th Century Fox and director Gavin Hood tamed down for profit, Reynolds did something truly special.

Do I really need to tell you what this sequel is about? Fine, let’s do it, just in case you miss the second-to-none marketing campaign, countless parody trailers, and hilarious usage of social media by Reynolds and his co-star Josh Brolin ( taking a break from infinity stone theft here in a different Marvel arena). Continue reading “‘Deadpool 2’ makes fun of everybody, and it’s awesome”

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Deadpool: A different kind of Marvel film

If you want something truly different and also hilarious, check out Deadpool.

Thank you Ryan Reynolds for giving the Wade Wilson story a fair shake. The memory of sad Wade with his mouth sewn shut in Wolverine Origins is comfortably sitting in my recycle bin right now thanks to the over the top, blissfully gratuitous, blood drunk and utterly hilarious Deadpool. The perfect recipe for Valentines Day escapism!

Here is a movie that will appeal to comic book fans, especially the ones who were angered by the abuse of Deadpool in previous projects. It will also appeal to the people who hate all the Marvel sequels and comic book retreads because there is more self aware humor and self deprecation in this film than all the other Marvel films combined. Reynolds, along with director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, take shots at X-Men films, Wolverine, and other movies(Liam Neeson in Taken among them) here. It’s a free for all. Nobody is protected and it’s all done in the name of entertainment.

At its core, Deadpool is feverish entertainment that you can’t find anywhere else. It may be a fast talking and moving movie about a mercenary full of cancer, dread and deadly thoughts who collects some revenge inside 108 minutes of screen time. It’s also a really good time at the movies and one that will make you laugh out loud. For all of you who thought the red band trailers gave away too much humor and would overshadow the movie, rest easy my little chimichangas. This film isn’t just packed with good one liners that will make you grin. There are several scenes that will make you laugh repeatedly. It is more of a comedy than a serious Marvel film. And yes, it is a Marvel film because Stan Lee shows up.

The key to the madness is Reynolds. It took a truly rebellious spirit to get this material right. Several actors would have chewed up the material or merely try to spray Pam all over it and slide to a paycheck. Reynolds goes the other way and digs in. He wanted to make this movie 10 years ago and finally got some friendly faces to join in on the fun to make a seemingly low budget riot that gambled on an R rating and smashed box office records over the weekend thanks to its strong follow through.

Reynolds is a unique talent, built early on the strength of comedies like National Lampoons Van Wilder, Waiting and Just Friends before growing into a versatile talent with films like Buried, Woman in Gold, and Mississippi Grind. Deadpool was made for Reynolds. This is his home run swing and massive bat flip to the producers who don’t know how to handle precious cargo. The actor expertly splices action, comedy, and an easy going confidence into a grand performance that won’t sing Oscar but instead roll in cash the rest of the month. Few times do an actor and a role seem made for each other, but the spices in the Deadpool recipe called for some Reynolds.

The supporting cast all bring different and much needed strokes to the film. Ed Skrein(Transporter Refueled and Game of Thrones) is the perfect “British Villain”. T.J. Miller and Reynolds have some of the best scenes between superhero and “much needed friend who owns a bar”. Morena Baccarin(Homeland) adds something extra to the “hot girlfriend” role while Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand and the motion capture work of Stefan Kepicic.

After I left the movie, I texted my friend who hates anything and everything cinematic with comic book in the description and said this movie was made for him. Deadpool isn’t just a good time at the movies. It’s a dish that can be savored a few times because rarely do action, comics, comedy and self awareness fit so comfortably together as they do here.

Take your friends and family to see it. It’s something different and truly original in its makeup and execution. A unique blend of Marvel entertainment.

More than anything, Deadpool shows that when a studio treats a product with not only care but respect, really good things can happen.

“Mississippi Grind” is a cinematic royal flush

Mississippi Grind doesn’t ask for your money but you should bet a few dollars on this indie gem anyway.

Mississippi-Grind-1Special movies know their identity and goal. They may not aspire to win the Oscar gold or the top spot at the box office but instead just register long enough for the viewer to smile at the credits and feel like their time wasn’t wasted. Mississippi Grind, about a pair of Gamblers working multiple joints up and down the famous riverfront, is a special treat because it aims to please and features original characters.

You may think you know Ben Mendelsohn’s Gerry and Ryan Reynolds’ Curtis from previous cinematic stories, but the truth is they are two of a kind. A pair of jokers working the clubs until the queens demand they return home. Two imperfect souls who are very good at being “the guy from nowhere who can play poker” and not very good at being a regular person. Gerry is down on his luck and owes everybody in the Midwest when he runs into Curtis, a good luck charm in the flesh at a game. Gerry loses all his money but finds a partner in crime in the younger Curtis. They hit the road and work the Mississippi River and all the highs and lows it has to offer. St. Louis, New Orleans, Alabama and Little Rock shine a light on our anti-heroes and give the film a beautifully gritty backdrop to deal off for its sharp 108 minute running time.

Writing/Directing tandem Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck basically toss the audience in the backseat of this guy and let them watch Gerry and Curtis ride the wave that every gambling junkie knows well. Big wins followed by little losses and the impulse to keep playing and the desire to withstand the greed that lurks inside any human soul. It’s all about knowing when to get out and run away clean and Gerry doesn’t know that mark at all. Curtis is the smarter player but that doesn’t make him any more even keeled. Gambling is a drug and it’s treated more honestly here than in other gambling movies. The tale is unpredictable without being depressing.

While there are other actors collecting a paycheck here, Mendelsohn and Reynolds own the road here. Mendelsohn, the ruffled feather of a character actor whose face you will know from films like Killing Them Softly and A Place Beyond The Pines, officially arrives in a leading role he has long deserved. With eyes carrying miles upon miles of sadness, the Aussie thespian makes you want to get to know him.

Reynolds easily gives his best performance to date and that’s saying something because he’s been good before. Here he settles into a role that fits all his abilities and pushes a few buttons audiences haven’t seen before. The fast talking comic maestro can fly back many roles on the seat of his charm but here he unveils a depth previously unreleased. You won’t be quick to trust Curtis and that’s because Reynolds snake eyes gaze keeps you guessing about where he truly comes from and his motives. It’s a real performance, similar to the one Fleck and Boden pulled from a yet unnoticed Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson.

Mississippi Grind does build to a huge final bet and while the climax is predictable, the resolution of the film is where is the cold center of a career gambler is revealed. The final few shots are just perfect. They leave you wanting more, having a will to spend a few more hours with these roughneck sinners who can’t quit the thrill.

It won’t win awards or be in theaters for long, but if you are needing a homemade batch of cinematic pleasure without the bells and whistles of a big budget showy flick, pay this movie’s tab and take it on for a stretch.