Studio: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Robert Schwentke
Review Rating: 7
Ever heard Professor Chaos from SouthPark lament that, “Simpsons did it!” already? That’s more or less the same situation we have here. Not that the Simpsons did it already, but that R.I.P.D. makes a valiant effort at being a fair carbon copy of Men In Black, only with ghosts and the afterlife instead of aliens.
Take our two main protagonists, Nick (Ryan Reynolds) and Roy (Jeff Bridges). Basically it’s the roles of J and K, but reversed for comedic effect: the younger rookie on the force is the straight man, and the veteran is the emotional fool with the witty one-liners. They have a straight man (or woman) boss who is generally rather stoic and reserved, Mary-Louise Parker known as their Proctor, but whom also gets raucous one-liners when the fit hits the shan and can kick your booty just as easily as Zed could. When the lingering spirits who refuse to face judgment begin to rot here on Earth, known colloquially as “Dead-os”, start getting uppity and overcrowded, that’s when the R.I.P.D. goes to work. But the holding cells are already overpopulated beyond bearing, and rumor has it amongst the Dead-os that a certain magical artifact, one that has the power to reverse the Judgment Corridor so the dead overrun the Earth, has been located and can now be used to bring about the apocalypse!
Mm-hmm. Personally, I have no doubt that if R.I.P.D. had come first, it would have garnered much more of a fan base. Then again, perhaps not. Reynolds style of humor evidenced in superhero movies has generally left a lot to be desired. And then there’s Jeff Bridges, as Roy Pulsipher, former Western lawman who’s now a Stetson-toting emotional wreck of a cop. Bridges has some of the more iconic roles under his belt: Obadiah Stane, Flynn, even The Dude, which means this role frankly isn’t worthy of him. Bridges did his level best to make it funny, but I just didn’t care for it and I doubt you will either. Kevin Bacon is Hayes, Nick’s former partner and all-around bad guy. He, like his performance in Hollow Man, does rather well as the “I don’t give a flip” villain, but that isn’t enough to save the film.
The avatars the boys wear when they’re working in the real world, the older asian man James Hong, and Roy’s come-hither female avatar Marisa Miler, should have been a nifty running gag and instead is just another pathetic humiliation for rookie Nick. I love me some Mary-Louise Parker as the Proctor, her performance as the movie’s Zed is likely the best role the film has to offer. If the world of the afterlife here on earth and the department of R.I.P.D. were explored more thoroughly, like the first film in a planned series, the movie could have been better. The whole Staff of Jericho reversing the Corridor of Judgment deal, basically bringing about the equivalent of the Apocalypse between Life and Death, would’ve had more impact if we cared and knew more about the world it’s trying to rearrange.
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