HOLLYWOOD—We’re at that time frame during the summer months when studios begin to release those movies that they know won’t cater to a specific audience, if any at all. “R.I.P.D.,” the sci-fi action flick starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges is one of those movies. Its not that the film is disastrously bad, it’s the fact that it’s something we’ve already seen before. Think “Men In Black,” but without Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The concept is very familiar to the moviegoer, who may not be impressed with the story.
Reynolds stars as Nick Walker, a Boston detective whose lapse in judgment ultimately costs him his life when he decides to steal gold with his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon). It appears Bacon has a penance for portraying villainous characters on the big screen, and this flick is no different. When Nick awakens he finds himself at the headquarters for R.I.P.D (Rest In Peace Department), an agency that recruits deceased officers to patrol the afterlife. That afterlife, involves its recruits doing battle with “Deados;” you could call them ghosts, some might call them aliens, similar to what is tracked in the “Men In Black” movies.
Walker is a bit skeptical about joining, until Mildred Proctor (Mary Louise-Parker), the head of the department promises him a second chance with his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak). Nick meets his partner Roy Pulsipher portrayed by Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges.
Bridges does indeed bring a distinct characteristic to this character that comes across half cowboy, half old man. The diction used by Bridges makes it difficult to understand what the character is saying half the time. The biggest laughs of the picture come with the revelation of both Roy’s and Nicks avatars; who they actually appear as when they arrive back on Earth.
Nick is in the body of an old Chinese Man (James Hong), while Roy is in the body of a smoking hot woman (Marisa Miller). The pairing of these two characters is so odd, that as a spectator you cannot help, but laugh. Not in a million years would anyone expect these two characters to be a unit, so that should alarm the people on Earth right away.
If the writers and the director would have used that avenue a bit more in the picture, “R.I.P.D.” could be passable as a hilarious comedy that audiences would have fell out of their theater seats for. Instead it becomes another picture of a character’s attempt to redeem himself after a bad deed.
For a picture that raked in a budget over $130 million to make, it better have stellar special effects, which it does, but everything else is quite flat. The audience isn’t really expected to take Bacon’s villainous character too seriously; in a way, some would call this a child’s movie as it almost appeals to that audience compared to the adults.
By LaDale Anderson