“R.I.P.D.” is based on a comic book, but the movie owes an even greater debt to a certain 1997 Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones sci-fi comedy about a couple of mismatched do-gooders out to rid the world of supernatural slime. Instead of aliens, the R.I.P.D. (short for Rest in Peace Department, by the way) is protecting the living from really bad special effect creatures called “deados,” who want to rule the planet or something.
Ryan Reynolds, in his second movie this week, plays a Boston police detective who is killed and forced into the R.I.P.D. by an ethereal Mary-Louise Parker, in her second movie this week, and partnered up with an Old West-style gunslinger named Roy who is one part Rooster Cogburn, one part Yosemite Sam. Roy is played by Jeff Bridges, who chews the scenery in this film as if it were made of beef jerky.
“R.I.P.D.” has a promising premise that could have worked if director Robert Schwentke (“Red”) had reigned in the tone the way Barry Sonnenfeld did when he paired Smith and Jones amid a bunch of goofy special effect creations in the movie I dare not mention. “R.I.P.D.” is all over the place, with camera angles that swirl to the point where you feel sick and tons of redundant destruction involving characters who cannot be killed because they are already dead.
Furthering the movie’s unpleasantness are the downright awful CGI effects, which are cheap and cartoon-like, the dopey running gag involving how the living world views the undead duo (Reynolds looks like James Hong, Bridges like swimsuit model Marisa Miller) and the fact that the bad guy is played by none other than Kevin Bacon himself, cashing a paycheck once again as he continues his quest to be typecast as this generation’s Willem Dafoe.
Then again, there may be some beacon of light in the virtually unwatchable “R.I.P.D.”: At least Reynolds, Bridges and Parker can finally lay claim to being a mere one degree away should anyone bring them up during a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
★ (out of ★★★★)
Rated PG-13 for language and violence. 96 minutes, 2013.
Director: Robert Schwentke. Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s stuff at AFistfulofPopcorn.com.
Categories: Jesse Hoheisel