After seeing the trailer for “R.I.P.D.” the very first time I predicted it was going to be a disaster. And it turns out I was right. Combine a lame story, embarrassing performances and production problems (the film wrapped in Jan. 2012 and it wasn’t released until this July) and you end-up with a film that’s a lock for most Worst of the Year lists (including mine). No surprise that Universal didn’t pre-screen it for critics or the public.
Ryan Reynolds stars in and is also an executive producer on “R.I.P.D.” He hasn’t exactly been churning out the hits lately – “Green Lantern” and “The Change-Up” were two recent bombs. Reynonds has faired much better doing animated voices, including the title role in “Turbo”, also out this summer. In “R.I.P.D.” Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston Police officer. He and his partner (Kevin Bacon) stole some gold during a drug raid and Nick buries his share in his backyard. But we’re supposed to believe that Nick’s really a nice guy, so suddenly he decides he wants to come clean and report the gold as evidence.
But before he can do that Nick gets shot and killed. He gets sucked-up in the sky, but instead of facing “judgement day” he’s given the chance to join the Rest In Peace Department. Mary Louise Parker (who’s so much better in “Red 2” – which was released in theaters the same day as “R.I.P.D.”) greets him and explains the situation.
Nick accepts the offer and is teamed-up with a veteran member of the “R.I.P.D”. Jeff Bridges combines two of his recent, popular roles (Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit” and his Oscar winning performance as drunken country singer Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart” – yes he does sing here) as Roy. The pair head back down to Boston to take down the “deados” – undead souls who avoided judgement day and refuse to leave the Earth. They look like humans but are really giant, fat, hideously disgusting zombie-like monsters. On Earth Roy and Nick don’t look like themselves. Instead they are a supermodel and “an old Chinese guy” – one of the film’s awful running jokes. Nick’s looking for revenge on the guy who killed him and there’s also a ridiculous plot involving – what else – the two cops having to prevent the end of the world.
“R.I.P.D.” is based on a comic book, which is appropriate since the movie has cartoonish “effects” and a paper-thin storyline. Obvious comparisons can be made to the “Men in Black” series: “invisible” partners, an old-timer and a rookie who take down weird-looking creatures. But in those films, the chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (and Josh Brolin in last year’s “MIB 3”) was great and the scripts were sharp and clever.
The one thing that “R.I.P.D.” accomplishes is allowing it’s stars to establish new career lows. It was tough watching Bridges mumble and bumble his way through this. And it’s funny – Bacon wasn’t even in the trailer. I’m sure he wishes now that he wasn’t in the film, either. Going in I didn’t expect expected “R.I.P.D.” to be funny, so I wasn’t shocked by that. But it’s the surprising amount of phoney dramatic moments that elevate this film to the untra-cheesy category.
“R.I.P.D.” is rated PG-13 for the sci-fi violence, adult language and references. It’s appropriate for teens and up. Thankfully, it’s only an hour and a half, but that’s still valuable time that you shouldn’t waste watching this mess.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “R.I.P.D.” gets a D-.