Craig's First Take: "R.I.P.D."

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Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds headline this supernatural action crime comedy about a recently slain cop who joins a team of undead police officers in an effort to find the man who murdered him. Based on the comic Rest In Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, the film is directed by Robert Schwentke and stars Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker in supporting roles.
1.5

We’re getting to a point now where we may need to issue a restraining order between Ryan Reynolds and comic books. After failing to even get spin-off movies for both his Hannibal King character in “Blade Trinity” and Deadpool in “Wolverine” (although lets be fair, very little good came out of both of those movies) he had his chance with “Green Lantern” and that too was an epic disaster that should have shut the door on him ever doing this again. But now we have “R.I.P.D”, and if his desperation to get himself a franchise didn’t show before, it sure as hell (or more aptly, heaven) does now.

As you may have already guessed, reports that this movie is a “Men in Black” rip-off aren’t exactly accurate. No, it’s actually based off a 2001 comic book by Peter Lenkov, and that’s the MIB rip-off. But who care? The blame for this should be spread around to everyone.

Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston cop who got into some shady deal with his partner Bobby (Kevin Bacon, basically telepathically telling you he’s the villain before it’s even revealed) involving gold. Long story short, Nick starts to get second thoughts about the whole thing and is eventually killed. There’s a fantastic freeze-frame shot once this happens, showing how in death, time just stops. Unfortunately this is about as smart as “R.I.P.D” gets.

Nick is immediately met by some administrator in the Boston chapter of heaven (Mary-Louise Parker, in more movies this weekend than in the past decade it seems) who says his choices are either face judgment or join up with cops who catch ghosts who have escaped heaven for a bit more time on earth. This is all handled with very fast-pacing by director Robert Schwentke, going up against the sequel to his last film (“Red”) this weekend, who seems to want to bypass numerous plot holes (Do all cops get offered this? How do so many ghosts escape?) as well as the fact that this is the lamest view of the afterlife ever committed to film.

It’s not long after that we meet Roy (Jeff Bridges, doing a Yosemite Sam crossed with Rooster Cogburn accent), short for Roycefus, a loner cowboy type who has been working R.I.P.D since the 1800’s. He and Nick partner up to capture some deados. It’s a partnership that includes Roy constantly talking about himself, the olden days, and the coyotes who did awful things to his dead body to an annoying degree and Nick coming up with witty asides like “shut-up Roy”, and then sometimes the two throw each other off buildings and into buses and so on. Bridges and Reynolds are trying, but with a witless screenplay credited to the two guys who wrote “Aeon Flux” and the Jackie Chan crapfest “The Tuxedo.”

For an action comedy, the film does horribly at both. There are obvious gags (the train from heaven to Earth goes right through a VCR repair shop), gags from MIB (the deados are the same types of oddballs), and worst of all is a running sight gag that has the guys inhabit avatar bodies on Earth, Bridges is a beautiful woman while Reynolds a middle-aged Asian man, that never becomes anything more than the same sight gag over and over again. And as far as the action goes, it’s heavily influenced by CGI to the point of looking completely artificial. The special effects work on the ghosts is also some of the ugliest and cheapest i’ve seen in a very long time.

As “R.I.P.D” manages to go on with a senseless story that somehow combines the gold mentioned in the earlier part of the film into a world domination plot by the deados, you’ll want to watch some “Ghostbusters” after just to watch a movie like this done right. Not fun, not funny, and not even something to look at fondly on a creative level, whatever hope there was for this thing dies faster than many of the characters in this movie.

1.5 out of 5