by Laurie Coker
My guest nailed it when he said that R.I.P.D. is like Ghostbusters, but it feels and looks a good deal like Men in Black, too. Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Louise Parker, and Kevin Bacon star in R.I.P.D., a rip-roaring, wild, CGI adventure ride taking place somewhere between Heaven and Hell in more ways than one. Riddled with plot and plausibility holes, director Robert Schwentke’s movie suffers from an asinine storyline and ridiculously overdone visual effects, but ultimately, R.I.P.D.’s cast holds this mess of a movie together.
Nick (Reynolds) finds himself in a sort-of limbo (a place just before judgment day), because his crooked partner (Bacon) shoots him after Nick, who is madly in love with his wife, decides to come clean about some gold found during an arrest. Nick wakes after the shooting, face to face with Proctor (Parker), a no-nonsense gal who appears to be in charge. She gives him his options (one really) and shortly after he is coupled with a new partner, Roy (Bridges), as the newest member of the R.I.P.D., a police department (manned by former, now deceased cops). There sole responsibility is to bring “deados” (dead people who are avoiding Hell and living on Earth) to their judgment day.
Suspension of belief is tantamount to getting any enjoyment out of R.I.P.D. – well, that and an admiration for its cast. When Roy and Nick, whose afterlife vessels look like an old Chinese man (Nick) and a super, super hot statuesque woman (Roy), venture into the city to bring back deados, they can interact with humans but obey none of the rules of humans. They race through the streets, crashing into everything, firing bizarre weapons, tearing up buildings, and causing a near-catastrophic disaster – a mess of all messes, which they must clean up in order to save the world – and no one notices or seems to care. It’s all pretty stupid, really.
Brilliant Bridges and Bacon are in true form and Reynolds rides hard right beside them, although casting here might be called type-casting. Their characters are completely unfresh and every action they take is entirely predictable, but it doesn’t matter too much because these guys are fun to watch. We see little of Parker, but moments between her and Bridges garner a few chuckles. Still, with that said, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s screenplay lacks the catchy, well-timed dialogue (even with this cast) necessary for success in this genre. It matters little, however, when a film has big-name stars, who can make up for the blunders in script and timing. This is not the case in all instances, but it is with R.I.P.D.. Were it not for casting, all of R.I.P.D. would R.I.P., and at this point I am guessing it will die an earlier death than its creators hoped.
I can’t say I hated R.I.P.D.. It is thankfully brief in run-time, garners only a PG-13 rating (my grandson was entertained), and has four stars to hold it up some, but I can only place a C- in my grade book. I’d put lower, but my two guests (one nine and one sixty) seemed to find it satisfying.