R.I.P.D. (Movie Review) – Not even Jeff Bridges in a law man role can save this Men in Black rip-off from it’s dumb and formulaic plot

By Benjamin Lane

R.I.P.D. (2013). Run time: 96 mins. MPAA: PG-13 (for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references). Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary Louise Parker, and Steven Szostak. Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Directed by Robert Schwentke.

In R.I.PD., Ryan Reynolds dies. Big surprise. That seems to always happen. But, this time he comes back to life. When he killed in the line of duty, serving his city as a police officer, he is transported to a select division of the afterlife titled R.I.P.D., or Rest In Peace Department. Because of his skills on earth at catching bad guys and getting a swell paycheck for it, the R.I.P.D. decides it’s wise to allow him to be a member of their squad, whose purpose is to go to earth and find dead souls who have managed to escape judgment. From there we meet Jeff Bridges’ typical law man character and Mary Louise Parker’s annoying habitual talking, throw in some sci-fi action, and Kevin Bacon, and we have our movie. Sound stupid? It really is.

Jeff Bridges is awesome. I love that guy. When he plays these types of roles it makes me regard him as one of the best out there, and by these types I mean men of the law. Look what he did in True Grit. He was fantastic. But he can also show range, like in Tron and Crazy Heart. Here, though, he plays the law man, and it saddens me to say I hardly laughed at all at him. It’s funny because this is marketed as a comedy, and I laughed more at his performance in True Grit and that was a straight up western, with humor thrown in the mix. He was off in this one. It’s not really his fault though. Sure, it’s his fault that he agreed to be in the movie after reading the ridiculously stupid script, but he was still weighed down by senseless direction and careless supporting actors. Ryan Reynolds. I don’t mind the guy. Yes, he picks bad scripts. That is why so many people make fun of him. But the guy has talent. Watch Buried. In that case he picked a great script and he showcased his talent in spectacular fashion. But where else has he done that? Certainly not here. He’s just blah. Kevin Bacon is in this movie. It’s Kevin Bacon. He’s almost a joke anymore. He’s not a bad actor at all, though. Just someone who picks bad scripts. I thought he was great as Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class and he did really good in Crazy, Stupid, Love, but apart from that what else? Recently anyway. The actors are just wasted.

Robert Schwentke directed R.I.P.D. I didn’t hate the direction. The film looked fine. Some of the special effects were really good. Schwentke has previously directed films such as Red and Flightplan, two films I actually enjoyed (yes, even Flightplan). So I’m not ranting on the director, or even on his movie. It’s just dumb. Which leads us into the screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. I know this is based on a Dark Horse comic series, and I cannot judge that given that I have not read it, but from what I have seen in this film, they are trying too hard to copy Men in Black. This is actually almost a complete rip-off of MIB, just focusing more on dead souls rather than aliens. The dialogue isn’t sharp, the characters aren’t drawn out, and hardly any of the humor hits. Some of it does, but hardly any does. The characters, while not being drawn out well, go into such clichéd territories it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It tries to be heartfelt, and it fails.

This isn’t a horrible movie, though. It’s just a below average summer movie that is sure to disappear under the radar. It has it’s pros. Bridges and Reynolds do have some chemistry. As I said before some of the humor works, and even though Jeff Bridges isn’t at the top of his game he was still entertaining to watch just for being Jeff Bridges. But that’s really it. Nothing too bad, nothing too good. Just below average.

FINAL VERDICT: R.I.P.D. is a below average summer movie that is sure to slip under the radar and never be seen again. Being almost a complete rip-off of Men in Black, this is a bland, boring, and bare movie that is even dumber than its plot. (C-)

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