"R.I.P.D." deserves to be ripped
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Jeff Bridges collects a big paycheck but burns through a good chunk of his reservoir of Oscar-winning good will with "R.I.P.D.," the worst comic book adaptation since "Jonah Hex."
I'd say he drags Ryan Reynolds down with him, but Reynolds is an old hand at mediocre movies adapted from that medium. As Nick, he's a bland and generic Boston cop — morally tested by temptation, murdered by his immoral partner (Kevin Bacon).
It's Bridges, doing a sort of Wild Bill-Rooster Cogburn-by-way-of-The Dude, who sticks his neck out. He's a long-dead Old West lawman named Roy who is Nick's new partner in the Rest in Peace Department — dead cops who get to redeem their reps, post mortem, by keeping the Evil Dead in their place.
And as faintly amusing and reminiscent of Tommy Lee Jones' "Men in Black" turn as this might be, there's no way these two smart guys didn't see this was piffle on the page. Whatever "RED" and "Flightplan" director Robert Schwentke might have promised, this is a movie with no depth, no intellectual heft and zero ambition. There's not an original thought, action, character or situation in between the big, expensive and generic effects.
Good comic book movies have scripts that simply use them as a launching pad to something deeper. Bad comic book movies showcase the shortcomings of that medium — broad, "colorful" characters in inane stories where their occasional one-liner doesn't lift this junk to literature.
A little "Ghost," a lot of "Men in Black," "R.I.P.D." has Mary-Louise Parker as the Proctor of the Afterlife, the station chief who pairs up partners and gives these guys their marching orders. Keep the "Dead-Os" — MIB-like monster people — from returning to Earth and taking over.
The cops have appropriate weapons. The living can see them, just not in their former guises. So Roy looks like bombshell blond Marissa Miller, and Nick can never convince his widow (Stephanie Szostak) that he's not the Chinese character actor James Hong. More should have been done with that.
Roy is a trigger-happy gunslinger "willin' to lethal up" when the need occurs. Nick just struggles to adjust to being nearly indestructible, but able to feel the pain of plummeting from great heights and getting hit by a truck. Roy sings, plays the concertina, does cute tricks with guns and his hat, wisecracks about the "soul stank" of the Dead-Os they hunt, and makes Nick "get yer snowman on." Be Frosty, in other words.
Bridges has all this exposition — explaining the afterlife — to get through. With a drawl. Bacon wears his usual lip-curled evil sneer and Reynolds tries to stay professional even though his face says, "First 'Green Lantern,' now this."
Only Parker, deadpanning her way through an afterlife where Steely Dan plays on the Muzak and Fresca is the soda of choice, escapes scorn. You kind of wish she'd been paired with Bridges in a mismatched buddy comedy — one that has nothing to do with comic books. I'll bet Reynolds wishes that, too.
1.5 stars (Grade: D-minus)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, James Hong
Directed by Robert Schwentke, screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. A Universal release.
Running time: 1:35
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.
"R.I.P.D." is DOA
The Fresno Bee
There are the recently dead instead of aliens and a cantankerous Jeff Bridges instead of Tommy Lee Jones, but this is nothing more than a cheap, lifeless knockoff of "Men In Black." The only thing standing in the way of a copyright infringement lawsuit is that Ryan Reynolds was cast to play the new recruit rather than Chris Rock or Kevin Hart.
Reynolds — who can also be heard this weekend turning in bland voice work in "Turbo" — plays Nick, a generally good cop who has made a few mistakes. When he gets shot in the face by his crooked partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon), Nick finds himself part of the Rest In Peace Department. His job is to round up those who have died but managed to find a way to avoid final judgment.
Nick's partnered with Roy (Bridges), a former Wild West lawman who talks like he was the third runner-up in a Yosemite Sam soundalike contest. It's up to the new partners to save the world from total destruction — a very common theme in movies this summer.
Director Robert Schwentke obviously knew he had little to work with in the script by the numerous writers who tried to adapt the Dark Horse comic. He loads the movie with odd camera tricks such as shooting scenes from weird angles and having the camera make odd treks to finally get to the scene. If only the story had been as different as some of his camera work, the film would have showed some signs of life.
Schwentke should have spent less time with the camera and a little more time with the special effects. When any of the walking dead reveal their true form, they hulk out into large ugly beasts. The computer-generated animation to create these creatures is so weak it looks like they were made with an Etch A Sketch. Stick figures would have been an improvement.
That could be why Reynolds looks bored and Bridges acts like he's in a completely different movie. The film's only good joke is that the recently dead never look like they did when they were alive. The living public sees Roy as a Victoria's Secret model (Marisa Miller) and Nick as an old Asian man (James Hong). Bridges and Reynolds are so disconnected to the movie, it would have been a far funnier film to watch Miller and Hong tracking down the deadly dead.
Forget that. The film's so uninspired that Bill O'Reilly and Barack Obama could have played the parts and it would still be as cold as a zombie's heart. And, adding insult to injury is the 3-D that is so bad it now stands for Dull, Dark and Disappointing.
The best thing that can be done with "R.I.P.D." is to give it a proper burial and pray there's no sequel.