Review: 'R.I.P.D' deserves to get ripped
By Roger Moore
Published: Friday, July 19, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Jeff Bridges collects a big paycheck but burns through a good chunk of his reservoir of Oscar-winning good will with “R.I.P.D.,” the worst comic book adaptation since “Jonah Hex.”
I'd say he drags Ryan Reynolds down with him, but Reynolds is an old hand at mediocre movies adapted from that medium. As Nick, he's a bland and generic Boston cop — morally tested by temptation, murdered by his immoral partner (Kevin Bacon).
It's Bridges, doing a sort of Wild Bill-Rooster Cogburn-by-way-of-The Dude, who sticks his neck out. He's a long-dead Old West lawman named Roy who is Nick's new partner in the Rest in Peace Department — dead cops who get to redeem their reps, post mortem, by keeping the Evil Dead in their place.
There's no way these two smart guys didn't see this was piffle on the page. Whatever “RED” and “Flightplan” director Robert Schwentke might have promised, this is a movie with no depth, no intellectual heft and zero ambition. There's not an original thought, action, character or situation in between the big, expensive and generic effects.
Good comic book movies have scripts that simply use them as a launching pad to something deeper. Bad comic book movies showcase the shortcomings of that medium - broad, “colorful” characters in inane stories where their occasional one-liner doesn't lift this junk to literature.
A little “Ghost,” a lot of “Men in Black,” “R.I.P.D.” has Mary-Louise Parker as the Proctor of the Afterlife, the station chief who pairs up partners and gives these guys their marching orders. Keep the “Dead-Os” - MIB-like monster people - from returning to Earth and taking over.
The cops have appropriate weapons. The living can see them, just not in their former guises. So Roy looks like bombshell blond Marissa Miller, and Nick can never convince his widow (Stephanie Szostak) that he's not the Chinese character actor James Hong. More should have been done with that.
Roy is a trigger-happy gunslinger “willin' to lethal up” when the need occurs. Nick just struggles to adjust to being nearly indestructible, but able to feel the pain of plummeting from great heights and getting hit by a truck. Roy sings, plays the concertina, does cute tricks with guns and his hat, wisecracks about the “soul stank” of the Dead-Os they hunt, and makes Nick “get yer snowman on.” Be Frosty, in other words.
Bridges has all this exposition - explaining the afterlife - to get through. With a drawl. Bacon wears his usual lip-curled evil sneer and Reynolds tries to stay professional even though his face says, “First ‘Green Lantern,' now this.”
Only Parker, deadpanning her way through an afterlife where Steely Dan plays on the Muzak and Fresca is the soda of choice, escapes scorn. You kind of wish she'd been paired with Bridges in a mismatched buddy comedy - one that has nothing to do with comic books. I'll bet Reynolds wishes that, too.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ teach lessons old as time
- Fiennes a force in ‘Invisible Woman’
- DVD reviews: ‘12 Years a Slave;’ ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and 'Oldboy'
- ‘In Bloom’ takes look at war without and within teen lives
- ‘Elaine Stritch’ still seeks to grab the spotlight
- ‘300’ sequel prettier, less thrilling
- ‘Gravity’ wins 7 Oscars, but ‘Slave’ is best picture
- Could Disney’s Oscar-winning ‘Frozen’ play bigger role in theme parks?