R.I.P.D. is basically Men in Black crossed with True Grit, crossed with Power Rangers. Sadly, despite some fun dialogue and some clever ideas and great visuals, it’s not all that good. Mainly that’s because the writers forgot to put in interesting characters.
To have any hope of liking R.I.P.D., you ought to have enjoyed:
any Men in Black movie
The Other Guys
The Three Stooges
What with the great effects and the good actors, it’s a shame that R.I.P.D. isn’t any more enjoyable than a bland sandwich without mayo.
Here’s a trailer:
Doesn’t that look fun?
Released July 19, 2013
Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, and David Dobkin. Based on the comic by Peter M. Lenkov
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Starring Mary Louise Parker, Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Stephanie Szostak, Kevin Bacon, Robert Knepper, Marissa Miller, and James Hong
* * * * *
Nick (Reynolds) is a cop who perishes in a firefight at the beginning of R.I.P.D. He is immediately taken to some purgatory-like place whose mission is to keep the bad lingering spirits of the dead from taking over the world of the living. They do this with some interesting technology and with some interesting constraints and rules.
First off, they’re dead. Apparently this means that being beat up and getting hit by a bus hurt, but just don’t kill you. Second, they use weapons, but without any interesting explanation as to what these weapons are and why they do what they do. Third, the bad spirits can physically transform into big, ugly creatures that can do actual damage to the real world. Fourth-
I’ll stop there. It gets more and more absurd as you go along thinking. This isn’t a thinking movie.
Nick is assigned a new partner named Roy (Bridges). They answer to Proctor (Parker). She is dry of humor and is actually pretty humorless.
Roy is basically Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn, but with more humor. Sadly, the humor just seems too carefully written– it doesn’t seem natural. Instead, it is simply delivered because it’s on the page.
Then you have Hayes (Bacon), who is a truly bad guy. Nick and Roy have to stop Hayes before Hayes unleashes a terrible evil which will destroy the world. At the same time, Nick has to deal with his beloved slowly making her way into danger as she is taken advantage of in her grief.
Critiquing R.I.P.D. is pretty simple. It’s far too much like Men in Black without refreshing the tropes and cleverness and humor. The characters have nothing interesting at all about them, which is a shame, because Reynolds, Parker, and Bridges are all good actors. The dialogue is intermittently funny, but is usually groan-worthy because we know exactly what’s going to be said when it comes to zingers.
This isn’t a bad movie, but it’s certainly hard to understand why such an obvious retread of Men in Black was found to be necessary.
For a movie about dead but not really dead cops who mete out vigilante justice, R.I.P.D. is strangely lifeless.
Content warnings: Comic/fantastic violence throughout, some mild swearing.
Writing: 2 Acting: 3.5 Overall: 2.5
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