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Underrated Ryan Reynolds Movies You Need To Watch

It's safe to say that Ryan Reynolds is best recognized for his role as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, Marvel's fourth-wall-breaking merc-with-a-mouth in the Deadpool movies set in 20th Century Fox's now-defunct X-Men universe. His casting as the character has been hailed as one of the most flawless superhero performances ever, on par with Chris Evans' Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. Reynolds will continue to play Deadpool in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making his debut in "Deadpool 3" alongside Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in 2024.

Critics and audiences have remarked (and complained) that Reynolds has essentially played a version of himself and/or Wade Wilson in just about every film he has starred in since 2016's "Deadpool." These include "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu," "6 Underground," "Red Notice," and "Free Guy," with critics citing a lack of variety in the actor's frequent portrayals of a snarky, witty protagonist. But before "Deadpool," Reynolds had played a slew of roles that proved his range and versatility as an actor, most of which may have been overshadowed by the actor's larger-than-life persona and his labeling as one of People's "Sexiest Men Alive." So leaving Deadpool behind for the moment, here are some of the actor's most underrated movies that we think you might want to rediscover before Reynolds dons the mask again.

Mississippi Grind (2015)

"Mississippi Grind" centers on the camaraderie that develops between two gamblers, Gerry and Curtis, as they travel through the American South stopping at every casino and gambling joint in the hope of winning big. The toxic nature of their friendship becomes increasingly apparent on their journey as certain revelations are made about both the characters' traits, ulterior motives, and backstories.

Ryan Reynolds portrays Curtis, a charming, younger, and somewhat lonely gambler who befriends the older, life-weary Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) in the belief that the two have forged a connection deeper than their shared interest in gambling. However, Reynolds finds it difficult to see through Gerry's real and greedy motive for keeping Curtis around: Gerry only sees Curtis as a good luck charm for his bets, the "leprechaun" who, as Gerry himself puts it, can lead him to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck –- the filmmaking duo behind indie darlings such as "Half Nelson" and "Sugar" who would subsequently helm the MCU's "Captain Marvel" — "Mississippi Grind" examines how gambling addiction impacts a person's relationships, friendships, and family, along with aptly capturing the exhilaration of winning and the lows of losing that a gambler experiences. The film was praised by critics for its subtle humor, emotional depth, and Reynolds' and Mendelsohn's performances, boasting a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Woman in Gold (2015)

"Woman in Gold" tells the true story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an Austrian-American Jewish refugee who tries to reclaim her family's collection of artworks from the Austrian government after they were pillaged by the Nazis during the Third Reich annexation of the country. Her chances of recovering the paintings look slim since many of them — especially a painting of Maria's aunt, known as the "Woman in Gold" — have become part of Austria's national identity, meaning that neither the art restitution board nor the Austrian government are willing to part with them. 

She enlists the help of Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), an inexperienced lawyer who initially agrees to represent Maria only because of the painting's substantial monetary worth. He later develops a deeper conviction when he realizes that Maria's case means much more to him — the paintings ultimately represent the memories of all those who did not survive the Nazi oppression. The youthful Randy and octogenarian Maria are connected by their roots in Austria, as well as a shared mutual admiration that grows over the course of the several years that the case takes.

While the film has its flaws — such as its slow pace, uneven structure, and being a bit overly sentimental at the expense of plausibility — it does become a touching, emotionally resonant story by the end. Though "Woman in Gold" isn't as much Reynolds' movie as it is Mirren's, there's enough here for fans to enjoy, with both actors' gripping performances, their endearing chemistry, and the compelling characterizations of Maria and Randy.

Adventureland (2009)

"Adventureland" is a sweet, coming-of-age teen comedy set in the 1980s that centers on James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent college graduate with huge aspirations to tour Europe and enroll in graduate school in order to pursue a career in journalism. Because of his family's financial struggles, he is compelled to work a summer job at the dilapidated amusement park Adventureland — where he meets Emily 'Em' Lewin (Kristen Stewart), a co-worker with whom he instantly connects and strikes up a romance.

Ryan Reynolds plays supporting character Mike Connell, the park's maintenance man and mechanic. He's pretty much a figure of envy among the employees of Adventureland, though the film gradually unveils a much deeper, darker, and more despicable side to him. In contrast to many of his other roles, Reynolds' character in "Adventureland" is mostly antagonistic, revealed to be a problematic presence and an obstacle in James and Emily's relationship.

Fans of the seminal teen comedy "Superbad" will find the movie appealing because, in addition to both films being directed by Greg Mottola, both also realistically depict the teenage experience of finishing high school and struggling to maintain relationships while aspiring to greater heights outside of an often small suburban milieu. Fans of workplace comedies like "Clerks" will also enjoy the film, as "Adventureland" similarly focuses on the dramas, interactions, and relationships among its disinterested staff members as they try to get through the monotonous, tedious workdays.

Definitely, Maybe (2008)

A wholesome film that manages to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming, "Definitely, Maybe" follows former political adviser William "Will" Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) as he tries to explain his upcoming divorce to his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) by telling her about his previous relationships and how he came to marry her mother. You wouldn't be mistaken if you thought the premise seemed similar to the TV series "How I Met Your Mother," as both audiences and critics have pointed out the parallels. Michael M aptly described the film in his audience review on Rotten Tomatoes as "'How I Met Your Mother' as a movie with a better twist ending."

Along with the amazing chemistry between all of its attractive and charming cast members, viewers should also be engaged by the delightful bond between Reynolds and Breslin in their portrayal of an endearing father-daughter relationship — a chemistry reminiscent of the one shared between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Chloe Grace Moretz in a similar rom-com, "500 Days of Summer."

The film employs interesting storytelling and filmmaking techniques through the somewhat unreliable narrator that Reynolds plays, especially when the story that Will tells his daughter is filled with inappropriate details that a precocious child would be understandably curious about (such as the definition of a "threesome," which Will humorously explains to her as "a game that adults play sometimes"). "Definitely, Maybe" is a must-watch for fans of Reynolds and rom-com films, as it skillfully explores the complications of love, life, romance, and heartbreak.

Buried (2010)

In "Buried," Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, an American civilian truck driver in Iraq who wakes up to find himself trapped in a coffin that's buried somewhere in a desert. Using his limited resources — basically a lighter and a mobile phone with a waning battery — Paul must race against time and reach out for help as he slowly runs out of oxygen and sand steadily fills the coffin. The film's hour-and-a-half running time is entirely set within the wooden casket in which Paul is trapped, with no cutaways to the outside world, making it a claustrophobia-inducing experience for viewers.

Despite the limitations of its setting, neither the movie nor its visuals get stale. Paul also becomes a compelling protagonist through Reynolds' performance, along with the backstory and characterization that emerges through the phone calls he makes to various people — family and strangers — as he struggles to survive. The director, Rodrigo Cortes, uses inventive, distinctive camera techniques and angles in every frame to keep the film visually engaging, avoiding the use of the same camera angle throughout the entire movie.

Similar to 2013's "Locke," a film set entirely in a moving car and starring Tom Hardy as a man trying to mend his family and relationships, "Buried" is a film that's almost singlehandedly carried by Reynolds and the nail-biting twist and turns of its story. It's well-deserving of its certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Smokin' Aces (2006)

After consenting to testify against the mob, Las Vegas magician-turned-mafioso Robert 'Buddy Aces' Israel (Jeremy Piven) becomes the target of numerous bounty hunters and assassins in director Joe Carnahan's 2006 crime flick, "Smokin' Aces." The film boasts an ensemble cast that includes Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Ray Liotta, and Chris Pine.

Reynolds plays FBI agent Richard Messner, who, along with his partner Donald Carruthers (played by Liotta), is tasked with guarding Israel. While Reynolds isn't the top-billed cast member — that distinction belongs to Affleck — the film centers on his journey through a day of tragedy and anguish, as he pursues Israel and learns that the FBI is involved in a larger conspiracy that most of the ill-fated individuals in the story aren't privy to.

Critics found the film to be loud, gratuitously violent, and overstuffed with characters, with the Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus stating, "'Smokin' Aces' has some [of] Quentin Tarantino's style but not much of his wit or humor." However, despite its 30% critics' rating, the film fared far better among general viewers, garnering a decent 62% audience rating. In the years since its release, the film has developed a cult following, even earning over double its budget through DVD sales alone (via The Numbers).

The Proposal (2009)

In 2009's "The Proposal," stern, hard-driving publishing executive Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is faced with deportation to her native Canada, which prompts her to put together a scheme of a sham marriage with her overworked assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). The plan gets off to a shaky start as they must convince an immigration officer that they are a couple — a stance he doesn't seem to buy — but then gets even more challenging when the pair head to Alaska to meet Andrew's family. That's where their fake romance, as you might expect, begins to turn into something real.

The plot itself may sound generic, cliched, and perhaps even quite problematic, with a superior using their position of power to coerce a subordinate into doing something they don't want to. But the film is worth watching for the irresistible chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds, along with the charm and humor brought by the ever-endearing Betty White (who plays Andrew's lovable grandmother).

Despite its predictable, formulaic rom-com narrative, "The Proposal" is a light-hearted and entertaining movie that was a hit with the public, scoring a 68% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as opposed to the dismal 45% critic rating) and grossing over $300 million worldwide on its $40 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). The movie is perhaps best remembered for its hilarious faux behind-the-scenes video sketch made by the cast and crew, where Reynolds and White seem to have a feud on the set of the film that involves White calling Reynolds a "jackass" and giving him the finger.

The Voices (2014)

Ryan Reynolds plays against type in 2014's "The Voices" as Jerry Hickfang, a seemingly cheerful bathtub factory worker whose only friends appear to be his malevolent cat (voiced by Reynolds), his benevolent dog (also voiced by Reynolds), and his court-appointed psychiatrist. After a murderous series of events that involve the death of his office crush Fiona (Gemma Arterton), Jerry must choose between listening to his cat, who encourages him to kill more people, and his dog, who urges him to try and hold onto his sanity.

If you like how bonkers that premise sounds, you're guaranteed to enjoy this film. It's radically different from the usual fare we've seen from Reynolds, even post-Deadpool. He delivers not just an unsettling performance as the schizophrenic but well-meaning Jerry, but voices the character's pet cat and dog with such wildly different personalities and accents that it takes a while to realize they're both done by the same actor. Additionally, the film balances out its violent, gory horror with surreal comedy that makes you question how dark your own sense of humor can get.

While critics gave "The Voices" a certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 75%, audiences gave the movie a lower score of 57% as some viewers found the film to be too violent and upsetting. In a tweet from 2020, Reynolds admitted that "The Voices" was one of his favorite movies he has ever made, calling it "weird and fun and beautiful." He felt the film was underrated, adding that it "never really got its day in court."

Just Friends (2005)

Long before Dwayne Johnson played the strapping character who used to be heavier in high school in 2016's "Central Intelligence," Ryan Reynolds donned (and ditched) the fat suit for his role as Chris Brander in 2005's romantic comedy film "Just Friends."

The story centers on Chris, a heavyset high school student who confesses his feelings for his crush and best friend Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart) but is rejected by her when she says she only wants to be friends. A decade later, Chris has lost weight and become a successful music executive. He reluctantly returns to his hometown and reconnects with Jamie, whom he still harbors feelings for and now attempts to break free of the "friend zone."

"Just Friends" is another Ryan Reynolds movie with a wide gap between its critics' and audiences' ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (42% and 71%, respectively). In addition to the formulaic plot, critics have noted a few aspects of the movie that haven't aged well, like the body shaming of Reynolds' character in the flashback scenes, the two-dimensional depiction of most of its female characters, and the innate sexism involved with the outdated concept of "friend zone" at the movie's core. Despite these criticisms, the film remains entertaining — possibly to the point of being a guilty pleasure — thanks to the humorous performances of Reynolds and Anna Faris, who plays the ditzy, self-absorbed singer Samantha James that Chris represents.

The Adam Project (2022)

In "The Adam Project," veteran fighter pilot Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) escapes a dystopian 2050 that's ruled by Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), who exploits time travel technology for her own gain. While searching for his missing wife Laura (Zoe Saldana), Adam crash-lands in the year 2022 and encounters his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell). The younger Adam is still grieving the recent death of his father, something that even the adult Adam has yet to come to terms with. Injured in his crash, the older Adam reluctantly enlists the help of his younger self to travel back to 2018 and stop their father (Mark Ruffalo) from ever inventing time travel in the first place.

Even though it isn't the most inventive or memorable time travel adventure (many critics have referenced the classic 1985 film "Back to the Future" in their reviews), "The Adam Project" manages to entertain audiences with exciting action, a talented cast with great chemistry, and a heartwarming depiction of family relationships. Despite its somewhat generic plotting and some of its science fiction elements not always making complete sense — along with some iffy-looking visual effects — the film has its heart in the right place, making it stand apart from a number of science fiction movies that have been released in the past few years.

The film marks the second collaboration between Levy and Reynolds, who also teamed up for "Free Guy" in 2021 and are going to work together again on "Deadpool 3," due out in 2024.