While I have heard all the generally bad reviews for this movie already, barring a couple, I went into this movie really wanting to like it. I felt like the MIB parallels would be there, but they wouldn’t really bother me. And while I was right about that part, the only problem I had was that the movie as a whole never really stood out as anything special. Not in the action department, the acting, the romance, not even the comedy. It was a generally mediocre movie that I do admit made me chuckle a few times so it’s not all bad. I’m also going to refrain from making any of the obvious play on words from the title of R.I.P.D. so there’s that.
The first thing I am going to do, and yet not going to do is compare this movie to Men in Black. Yes, it’s a sci-fi buddy cop movie with a grizzled old detective that’s ready to retire and doesn’t want a partner, yet he’s forced to partner with a hot shot young rookie, but isn’t that every other buddy cop movie out there too? Ryan Reynolds plays that hot shot young rookie who just recently got killed by his partner Kevin Bacon who seems to be playing a lot of these type of roles lately like he did in Super and X-Men First Class. He’s not a golden boy though because he did some under the table stuff on his partner’s suggestion so he gets convinced into opting out of the judgment gates in favor of a 50 year haul in the R.I.P.D. in order to get a favorable recommendation. Jeff Bridges plays a hard to understand lawman from the old west, and while the audience is initially led to believe that he’s one of the best. We later find out that he apparently has made many mistakes due to his much longer than 50 year term. For the most part he knows the way things go, but he ends up being not much of a mentor. It’s played a bit like he’s just been doing the routine since nearly everything that happens on this case is quite new to him. This actually makes for an interesting twist on the typical buddy cop system except for the fact that it’s never actually presented that way, it’s just something that I inferred based on the end result of the movie, and that just doesn’t work for me. If he’s supposed to be the know-it-all mentor that he presents himself as, there’s just too many things that felt like he should have known about that he’s never seen before.
Another thing this movie uses from the buddy cop genre is the comedy beats. One of the most frequently used is the fact that to everyone who isn’t R.I.P.D. their true identities are masked. So Reynolds looks like an old Asian man and Bridges looks like a supermodel. I found this funny in a couple instances, but for the most part I found it rather stupid. The point of having their identities be masked is twofold. One is so they can’t contact anyone from their former life, which makes sense until everyone from their former life is dead as would be the case for an old west sheriff. Two is so that they better blend into the real world, except for the fact that being a supermodel actually gets in the way of their investigations much more often than it helps them, and could have been used much better for comedy rather than using the annoyingly ever-present music cue of “Who’s That Lady” every time someone comes to hit on him.
I think one part that bugged me the most about this movie was the badly developed romantic subplot. Reynolds’ wife barely gets any screen time before his death, he tries to contact her once at his own funeral with no success, they think that Kevin Bacon is trying to sleep with her, but they spend nearly the entire movie apart. And the payoff at the end is very weak and doesn’t even make that much sense. She is the one that is sacrificed so that the dead can walk the Earth, thus fulfilling the “blood of my enemy” or similar quote from the ancient artifact. Another thing was that it was entirely too predictable. I do have to admit that I knew Kevin Bacon played the villain from the get go, but from the first scene where they make a big deal about his charm bracelet I knew that he was dead and that charm was what was keeping him protected from the R.I.P.D. And from the moment they put all the weird gold chunks in the evidence locker I knew that the plan was to gather all the pieces of this artifact at R.I.P.D. H.Q. And make a big assault to get them all in one go. On top of that, there’s too many plot conveniences like the macguffin artifact in question, but also the other artifact that happens to freeze all the R.I.P.D. officers while leaving the other deados perfectly unscathed. I also never got the part where they explained why as soon as someone villainous died and stayed on Earth that they became this hideously deformed creature with superhuman size and strength, it almost felt like I was watching a CGI version of the Toxic Avenger.
There were a few things that I enjoyed about this movie, I did like the chemistry between Reynolds and Bridges once they started getting into it. I liked the relationship between Bridges and Mary Louise-Parker, I guess you would call her the R.I.P.D. chief of police and I also quite enjoyed her character overall and wish she would have gotten a bit more screen time. I think the comedy was hit more often than miss for me, but I also don’t think there was enough comedy in the movie overall. I didn’t have that much of a problem with the CGI, though it did look more dated than it should have, it reminded me a lot of the giants in Jack the Giant Slayer, though the fact that the deados were somewhat etherial and unreal in concept probably helped me to give it a little more leeway. It wasn’t an awful movie, and from what I have heard I should have expected less, but I still hoped for more. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.