Throughout time, there have been good examples of high-concept comedy movies. "Ghostbusters" comes to mind and that was fairly revolutionary when it came out. There have not been that many examples quite like "Ghostbusters." That movie did three things: (a) It featured good special effects for that time period, (b) it was funny comedy, (c) it told its story well. Getting comedies with all three of those qualifications is tough. I think another good example was "Men In Black." I never dug any of the sequels, but MIB was a fun exercise that felt vastly original.
"R.I.P.D." for better or for worse, is going to get compared to "Men In Black." When my older brother emailed me a Youtube version of "R.I.P.D.'s" trailer, he called it paranormal Men In Black. That is essentially what this movie is. Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is a Boston police officer who is mysteriously killed by his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon). When he dies, he doesn't go to Heaven or Hell, but to what looks like a job interview. He is given two choices, God's judgement or work at R.I.P.D. The thing is, Walker wasn't a perfect cop. He buried gold in his backyard which he took off a dead thug, and he could be given a second chance at life he does his time with the R.I.P.D. The R.I.P.D. is a group of dead cop spirits who around arresting ghosts that are trying to escape judgement. Walker is given a partner named Roy (Jeff Bridges) who a veteran looking to be free from the department.
So yeah, basically its the undead version of Men In Black, doesn't make it a better movie one bit though. In fact, I kind of wish I could say I liked the film more than I did. I like some of the energy of the movie, I like some of the ideas of the movie, and Reynolds and Bridges make a charismatic team. However, I could not get over how bad and cheap the special effects were. I wasn't a fan of the ham-handed, cliche-ridden script. Its sad to me that a lot of the dialogue that was suppose to land funny, didn't at all.
I know it took awhile for things to finally get going in "Men In Black," and I'll give "R.I.P.D" credit for really getting things going. But a lot of the first half hour of "R.I.P.D." suffers from persistent familiarity. Ryan Reynolds does well paired with Bridges, but he's basically playing a typical Reynolds fair, hung-up on a wife (Stephanie Szostak) he left behind in the living world. I have loved Bridges my whole life, but for his last few movies, it has been hard for me not to imagine The Dude in him. He tries to cover it up in this movie with a silly, fake accent, but to no prevail. And I Kevin Bacon pretty much plays a version of Sebastian Shaw from X-Men again. Mary Louise-Parker, so charming in "Red 2," is charming once more in this. She plays a high ranking official in the department, I wish she had more screen time than she did. Its not that these actors did bad, I just wish they had better characters to play.
I wish the ghosts, or "Deados" as their called in the film, were cooler and more menacing looking. However, each ghost our heroic duo chases look like the fat zombies from "Left 4 Dead," a big, sloppy, CGI nightmare. Really, I couldn't get over how bad the special effects were.
Besides some of the performances, the idea is kind of cool at times. I wish there was a better script to work from. I liked many of the sets in the film. I liked the Staff of Jericho and how it fit into the movie. I liked some of the action pieces of the movie. But sadly, with so much good going on, I couldn't help but notice that "R.I.P.D." still managed to be boring.
Please don't make this a franchise, because I don't know if anybody will be up for a "R.I.P.D." franchise. Telling from the reviews and the box office, I am not sure anybody else is too. I don't care if the movie has some positives going for it, leave this property alone. It was a fun experiment, but it just didn't work as a whole.
FINAL GRADE: C+