Dead Men in Black 

I wish I could disagree with the negative critical consensus that's massed around R.I.P.D., but the film is as misshapen and misbegotten as everyone says it is. It is an example of the worst kind of Hollywood product — the kind that, once it's over, is almost impossible to care about one way or the other. And since R.I.P.D. relies so heavily on clichés as its basic mode of communication, it dies the death of a thousand cuts well before its closing credits.

Ryan Reynolds, who seems to be silently begging the audience to look away during his many close-ups, stars as a corrupt cop killed in the line of duty by his more corrupt partner (Kevin Bacon, providing Jiffy Pop villainy). After he's sucked through a hole in the sky and into some kind of afterlife waiting room, Reynolds is given the option to improve his chances on Judgment Day by spending the next century chasing down the rotten undead souls hiding out on Earth. Naturally, he's paired with a crusty, unconventional old maverick (Jeff Bridges) from the Wild West who's never worked with anyone else before, dagnabit! Will they work out their generational differences in time to solve a mystery that saves humanity from a trans-dimensional portal that, if opened, threatens to end life on Earth as we know it?

Of course they will. But you knew that.

R.I.P.D. is more than merely derivative, though; it's an instantly recognizable zombie/replicant of a familiar, far superior property. Anyone with basic cable — indeed, anyone who has seen more than eight movies in his or her life — will quickly notice that R.I.P.D. steals almost everything it can from a certain mega-blockbuster franchise about extraterrestrial threats to the planet that paired the Fresh Prince with noted abolitionist Senator Thaddeus Stevens.

Yet, instead of aping that franchise's light touch, R.I.P.D. tries to be all things to everyone: part zany buddy-comedy, part mystery, and part action thriller, with a pinch of domestic drama thrown in for luck. But it's all been said before. And the parade of clichés — the girl as bait, the villain who wants to get caught, etc. — grows more and more worrisome. If the filmmakers haven't done anything interesting with these clichés before the obligatory grand finale, what are the chances that they'll do anything different at the end?

There are signs of life, however. Bridges, his jaw packed with chaw, hints at some of the rascally perversions of an undead lawman who appears to normal people as a supermodel in a gold lamé miniskirt. He delivers a strangely poetic line ("One of them coyotes, he made love to my skull") with what seems like the proper amount of incredulous sorrow. There's also lots of unpredictable camera movement; at any moment, the image is liable to flip upside-down, boomerang into the sky, or swan-dive down an elevator shaft.

But both Bridges' performance and the anything-goes camera work reek of desperation. It's tough to watch, and, frankly, I'm too old for this ... kind of thing.

R.I.P.D.
Now playing
Multiple locations

R.I.P.D.
Rated PG-13 · 96 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.ripd.com
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Phil Hay
Producer: Neal H. Moritz, Mike Richardson and Michael Fottrell
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker and Stephanie Szostak

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for R.I.P.D.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • The Florida Project

      Orlando grifters live on the edge in director Sean Baker’s follow up to Tangerine.
    • Unreal Film Festival 2017

      Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Festival Invades Studio On The Square.

Blogs

Fly On The Wall Blog

A Post About Gluten Free Strippers and Effing Traffic

Music Blog

A Week's Tribute to Jimmie Lunceford

News Blog

MATA Proposes to End Ikea Route, Alter Others

Beyond the Arc

Beyond the Arc Podcast #84: The Dillon Brooks Era

Tiger Blue

#25 Memphis 42, Houston 38

Music Blog

Butthole Surfers and Bad Seeds Salute the Man in Black

Music Blog

Soulsville USA Festival Lights Up McLemore Ave.

We Saw You

Emo and you

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Addison Engelking

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation