As children, we enjoy juvenile humor. The key to a kids’ funny bone is often asinine and vacuous, signifying nothing. As we grow older, approaching second childishness and mere oblivion, our taste for juvenile humor faces two possible fates. The first is elimination, as we turn our gaze to finer wit—like quoting Shakespeare in a movie review. The other is an evolution to puerile humor, like all of Shakespeare’s jokes about sex. “Deadpool 2” focuses squarely on the latter, minus anything remotely Shakespearean.
The original “Deadpool” film was something of a miracle. Long a passion project of Ryan Reynolds after his Deadpool character was egregiously misused in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, the movie proved to be a raucous and raunchy blast after Reynolds’ effort paid off. At least, it was on first viewing. Miracles rely heavily on novelty: upon returning to “Deadpool”, many questioned if there was a good movie beneath the fourth wall breaking and superhero parodying.
Not content with letting that question be answered easily, Reynolds and crew are back with “Deadpool 2”, a movie that avoids labels through pure erraticism. The novelty of the original has worn off, so returning screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick compensate with tonal inconsistency. The chess pieces of “Deadpool 2” belong to different boards—graphic violence, a moving romance, cheeky humor, time-travel ethics, and a familial focus—making it difficult to discern what the movie is trying to be. As disorienting as that can feel, it’s intentional: the unpredictability keeps you guessing and laughing.
This sequel is much more concerned with comedy than the original. While this does mean more laughs, it also means more jokes that don’t work. A higher percentage of puerile punch lines is bad news for those who enjoyed “Deadpool” despite its immaturity. The one-liners flying with the bullets don’t hit their targets as often. Humor isn’t as well integrated as it was in the first film, either: “Deadpool 2” often stops dead in its tracks to launch into a comedic set piece, derailing the plot or David Leitch’s well-choreographed action in order to poke fun at itself.
Like its predecessor, “Deadpool 2” is a bit hypocritical. It mocks the genre that it’s beholden to. At one point, Wade Wilson comments on the X-Men being an outdated metaphor for denouncing racism, despite his movie being full of heavy-handed metaphors for ICE, private prisons, and conversion therapy (all of which earn the criticism that the movie doles out).
But the hypocrisy of the original worked in its favor. At its core, “Deadpool” was a hero’s journey to save a partner, and that simplicity gave the movie heart. While “Deadpool 2” does have moments of surprising poignancy, the movie’s uneven character work and pacing hold it back from the hidden straightforwardness that give its predecessor purpose.
Despite these structural flaws, “Deadpool 2” is still a decent amount of fun. It’s intermittently hilarious, brashly tasteless, well-acted all around, and even sexually progressive: it contains the first openly queer superhero in cinema, and some of its funniest moments stem from sexualizing CGI blobs in a way that’s reminiscent of how Hollywood sexualizes women. The fourth wall may not need further destruction, but there’s still a good time to be had—particularly during the credits.