Men in Black meets Ghostbusters. That is the best way to describe the latest movie from Director Robert Schwentke. Schwentke also directed Red and The Time Traveler’s Wife, for reference. R.I.P.D, (Rest in Peace Department), is a fun, lighthearted and corny film staring Ryan Reynolds and one of my all-time favorites, Jeff Bridges. The premise of the film is that when a person dies, it’s possible that rather than going to heaven or hell, s/he could be recruited into the afterlife police force known as the Rest in Peace Department, hence the name R.I.P.D. As shown in the trailers and previews (so no spoilers), Ryan Reynolds is a cop who gets killed on the job and winds up becoming an officer of the R.I.P.D. He also joins forces with his new partner, Jeff Bridges. As luck would have it, some terrible, apocalyptic threat is just about to wipe out the living world. Roy (Bridges) and Nick (Reynolds) are basically all that can save us from the dead souls taking over.
The beginning of the film moves fairly slow. This is in part due to the fact that anyone who has seen a commercial, trailer or read my first paragraph, knows that Nick will die and become Roy’s partner in the R.I.P.D. That means that anything occurring before this is not particularly new information or even the meat of the film. Instead, the beginning of the film helps build some relationships Nick’s character has in the living world, setting up how he will deal with the afterlife. Once Nick is officially on duty for the R.I.P.D., things get more exciting, fast-paced and fun. Unfortunately, most of the best jokes are in the previewstrailers, as is common, but the film does stand well on its own. As I noted, it’s fairly lighthearted which can make the more dramatic and emotional scenes less intense. On top of that, the action sequences are corny but fun. The special effects aren’t particularly realistic for the most part but a lot of that is due to our heroes being slammed around Boston in manners that would normally kill someone.
R.I.P.D. truly tries to bring back the magic of Men in Black. Whether they want to admit it or not, this film takes the unique world of the MIB and ports it over to the Ghostbusters’ universe. Honestly, if Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones fought evil, dead souls rather than evil aliens, this would be the same film… except we don’t get any cool gadgets or weapons other than some majorly huge handguns. What R.I.P.D. lacks is originality and seriousness. The film is a little too corny for me to care that the dead are about to take over the planet and at the same time, that Officer Nick is truly in pain over losing his life and connections he’d made. Now, Bridges and Reynolds do a nice job. Reynolds is himself, as he tends to be, but it works in this setting much as it has worked for him in the past. Jeff Bridges had to stretch a bit though. The man who usually plays The Dude or The Dude who likes computers, Bridges must play an 1800’s Lawman. Basically, a corny version of his character, Rooster Cogburn from True Grit. The support cast is pretty solid as well. I especially enjoyed Mary-Louise Parker as the Proctor and her unique relationship with Roy. Of course, Reynolds living avatar, as it were, James Hong, adds an additional level of humor that we’d miss if our heroes were just themselves for the entire movie. And I love the villain, enough said there.
At the end of the day, R.I.P.D. is a 96 minute, PG-13 film with a budget of approximately $130 million which puts it well below the budget of some of the major summer blockbusters like Pacific Rim and Man of Steel. If you enjoy Jeff Bridges or Ryan Reynolds, you should see this movie. It’s them front and center and that alone was worth it for me. Also, if you’ve enjoyed Men in Black, you’ll probably like this movie too, simply because it’s a familiar feel with new heroes and enemies. Just make sure your expectations are set correctly. It’s a movie that might be rated PG-13 but has a kid feel to it. It’s a lot of fun but it is corny.