At the Movies: R.I.P.D.

Sometimes a movie sneaks in under the radar. I had never heard of “R.I.P.D.” until it showed up on the schedule a few weeks ago.

When I went to look it up it read like an odd mash-up of “Men in Black” and “Ghostbusters.” I put “R.I.P.D.” on my “Don’t Bother” list and that would’ve been the end of it but then I saw a commercial for it on television. The special effects were intriguing and there was Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges — what’s he doing there? Now I’m interested. Jeff Bridges rarely makes bad movies, in fact he’s been on quite a roll lately with “Crazy Heart” and “True Grit.”

Maybe I was too quick to judge. I made the long trek to Ronnie’s Cine for the screening.

Turns out I should’ve gone with my gut. While he gives it a daring try, even Jeff Bridges can’t resurrect a decent film from “R.I.P.D.”

ripd-poster-300x475Based on a Dark Horse comic by Peter M. Lenkov, “R.I.P.D.” star Ryan Reynolds as Nick Walker, a well-meaning Boston cop who in a moment of weakness joins his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) in stealing some gold pieces acquired in a drug bust. Nick’s conscience gets the best of him and he tells Bobby he’s going to return his share of the gold.

Bobby responds by shooting Nick in the chest repeatedly until he falls from a building.

Now dead, Nick finds himself in the office of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who welcomes him into service with the Rest In Peace Department. The R.I.P.D. is made up of deceased police officers who are sent back to the land of the living to reclaim the “deados” — evil spirits who slipped through the cracks when the Grim Reaper came calling.

The rookie is  teamed up with veteran Wild West lawman Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). Together they uncover a scheme to make the living dead the dominant species on Earth.

Directed by Robert Schwentke, “R.I.P.D” has a few clever ideas but can never overcome the fact that it looks and feels like a second-rate imitation of the “Men in Black” series. It’s especially evident in the monster designs.

The film’s humor is lacking and the special effects, while sometimes decent, more often look like something out of a bad video game. The plot is equally thin but it does keep the film at a reasonable 96 minutes.

The one thing “R.I.P.D.” has going for it, as expected, is Jeff Bridges. Roy Pulsipher looks like General Custer and sounds like Rooster Cogburn. It’s a campy, colorful performance that carries the film along. But it’s clear that Roy is the only thing the film has going for it and eventually it comes to rely on him too much.

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