Dir. by Robert Schwentke - 1 hr. 36 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
Yes, "R.I.P.D." is pretty much exactly "Men in Black," except the mentor is the one running his mouth instead of the pupil. But, there has been probably around six thousand films based around the old cop/young cop dynamic, so it's not as if "MIB" reinvented the wheel. All it did was jam one of these aforementioned cop movies into a tight container with "Ghostbusters," stirred, and delivered sequels. So I don't have a problem with "R.I.P.D" doing exactly the same thing.
Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is a Boston policeman with a crisis of conscience: he and his partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon) have taken some gold from a crime scene, and now Nick doesn't want anything to do with it. It has to do with his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak), and the adoring looks she gives him, which is as good of a reason as any. Unfortunately, Hayes isn't on board with Nick's plan to come clean, and takes the opportunity to kill him during some chaos on a bust. On Nick's way to the afterlife, he ends up in an office with an offer: Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) can give him a letter of recommendation in terms of his eventual fate, but only if he joins the Rest In Peace Department for a term of 100 years. Nick agrees, and is partnered with an Old West lawman named Roycephus Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), and together they will hunt down Deados who have escaped from Hell.
As per custom, let's get the good stuff out of the way first. Whether or not you enjoy "R.I.P.D." largely depends on how much you like Jeff Bridges and his work. I'm sure Ryan Reynolds has fans (he's got to, right?), and Mary-Louise Parker does too (myself included), but he has the straight role in the film, and her role simply isn't big enough to do more than lift up her own scenes. I will show up for just about anything Jeff Bridges does, and his goofier version of Rooster Cogburn was a huge part of the reason I wanted to see this film. Bridges delivers consistently throughout, which makes "R.I.P.D" zip along a bit faster than it probably should. He's the reason to watch this. I wish his performance had been in the context of a better film, but Jeff Bridges doing what only Jeff Bridges can do is enough of a consolation.
While I don't hold the comparison to "Men in Black" against "R.I.P.D.," that's also an explicit admission that "R.I.P.D." doesn't have much new or compelling to offer. I've seen Kevin Bacon play baddies before, and one of the other beasties in the film seems to be a CGI Fat Bastard (from the third Austin Powers film). There are a couple of good visual scenes - my favorite being the immediate post-death scenes where a character will walk around in a freeze frame of the chaos surrounding them, which means cars and people are hovering in mid-air mid-explosion. The other good visuals are of the female variety, and since there's only two real female characters in the film, I'll just say that the film is two-for-two instead of getting into specifics.
It's hard to get mad about a film like "R.I.P.D." It aims to be an hour and a half of popcorn fun, of Jeff Bridges running around like Yosemite Sam and Mary-Louise Parker simmering, and with goofy monsters being dispatched back to the underworld. To get frustrated that this doesn't deliver more would be to enter the theatre with wildly unrealistic expectations. There's nothing anywhere to suggest viewers should expect anything new or revolutionary. "R.I.P.D." is exactly what it purports to be, and it kind of met the low bar that it set for itself. If you adjust your expectations going in, you can have a good time for an hour and a half. I'm not disputing for a second that there are better movies all around it, and that you might have a better time at one of them, but it's not going to be the end of the world if you sit through this one instead.
2 / 5 - Theatre