R.I.P.D.: May it R.I.P.

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJuly 19, 2013 

Based on a graphic novel, R.I.P.D. stands for Rest in Peace Department. It's penned by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and David Dobkin, the team that did Clash of the Titans and directed by Red director Robert Schwentke.

These are talented people. What happened here? Nothing in the film is close to original.

R.I.P.D. is an acronym, and if you say it out loud, it comes out "ripped." That's almost ironic. The screenplay and movie rip off ideas from much better movies. In this case, it is Ghost and Men in Black meet Ghostbusters.

All were terrific flicks. This one is not.

Here's the plot. Ryan Reynolds is Nick. He's a Boston cop. Kevin Bacon is Hayes, his partner and best friend. The two do a drug bust and find some gold bars that they decide to keep. Nick buries his in his backyard. Later, he changes his mind and tells Hayes he's going to turn his share into the evidence room.

Hayes doesn't like the idea, and later in a raid, he kills Nick.

After falling several floors, Nick wakes up to a world frozen in time. He's sucked into a hole in the clouds where an all-business cop done by Mary-Louise Parker (Red and Red 2) informs Nick that his life has been so-so and rather than terminate his existence, the decision-makers upstairs are giving him a chance at redemption.

That chance is to join the R.I.P.D. It's spiritual law enforcement hanging around on Earth to bag people and creatures that refuse to move on after they die. All world negativity and decay comes from them.

Nick is teamed with Jeff Bridges' Roy, a rule-breaking, maverick cop who died sometime in the 1880s. The nonchemistry between the two is instant. Roy doesn't want a partner, and Nick doesn't want to be dead.

Their first case involves gold. That gets Nick to thinking that maybe the gold he was killed over has something to do with eternal life. Turns out, it does.

About the only fun part of R.I.P.D. is how Bridges' and Reynolds' characters look to people on Earth. They don't look like who they were in real life. That's to keep people who knew them from recognizing who they are. Roy is seen as a drop-dead gorgeous and very-well built blonde, done by Marisa Miller. And Nick appears as a small Asian guy.

He's played by the wonderful character actor James Hong.

While the writers and Schwentke have some fun with this concept, more fun could have been had with it and, truthfully, more fun could have been had with the whole "being dead" thing.

There are few actors more likable or better at the craft of being a character than Bridges. Pardon the pun, but he's even been the salvation for movies that tank. If Bridges is in a movie, he's good enough that it ends up working.

Not here. And not by a long shot.

Bridges picks what he thinks is an old-west delivery style. Each line is scratched out like he has a giant chaw of tobacco stuffed in his mouth. Ten minutes into the film, and you're as irritated with him as Reynolds' Nick.

Reynolds isn't that good either. But he basically sleepwalks through any role he's in anyway, and here, he's at his sleepwalking best.

And why is it that Bacon always has to play a villain? We realize he's good at it, but after a while, doesn't it occur to producers that he can play other parts? That said, for sure all three main actors can find something better than this.

Maybe it was an irresistible payday.

Or it could be that R.I.P.D. is one of those flicks that sounds like a good idea on paper? There's a ton of potential here for a funny movie. The trailer looked fun. Looks -- as we know -- can be deceiving. The execution of the concept doesn't quite equal the potential.

It's best to just drop the "D" from the title and consider this one dead on arrival. May R.I.P.D. R.I.P.

Director: Robert Schwentke

Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, James Hong, Marisa Miller

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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