R.I.P.D. Great for Nap Time

Chloe' Robbins-Anderson

There’s a new movie for the popular game “Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon,” and it has some really great actors for the game. At least, that’s the best part of “R.I.P.D.,” which was released to DVD last week.

The movie is about police detective Nick (Ryan Reynolds), who is killed by his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon) and given a chance to bypass judgment by working for the Rest in Peace Department. His partner is Roy (Jeff Bridges), who died in the 1800s Old West and is reluctant to welcome any partner. In order to not be recognized by people in their former lives, the two inhabit the bodies of a model (Marisa Miller) and an old Chinese man (James Hong). The two start finding connections that lead a big conspiracy to bring the dead back to Earth, and the mastermind behind it is, of course, Bobby. A big, crazy fight ensues, and good wins over evil.

The plot is entirely predictable. Audiences can leave the room to make popcorn and not be lost when they return. The film awkwardly straddles the line between comedy and thriller. This is unlike director Robert Schwentke’s previous film, “Red,” which was hugely successful in balancing these two aspects despite changing much of the source comic’s storyline.

The monster designs were fairly imaginative aside from the monsters that were simply larger, obscenely muscular versions of people. The monsters in the comic, however, are much more diverse and interesting, more like creatures than bigger humans, so it’s a mystery why Schwentke chose to ignore them. Audience members could have forgiven awkwardly moving CGI creature monsters more easily than these weird, misshapen humans.  Even Bobby’s version of a monster was CGI, by the way he was moving, but could have been achieved with simple makeup effects. Kids these days.

Bridges plays an Agent K to Reynolds’ Agent J. Both films have the new recruit who is discovering this whole new quirky world – the audience’s “in” to explain everything – and the cranky old veteran who only works alone, but gradually warms up and accepts the kid.

“R.I.P.D.” is missing all the heart that “Men in Black” possessed, however. It tried. It really did, but it just fell short because of its one-dimensional characters. Audiences can’t feel anything for these characters other than a passing concern during some fights.

That being said, Bridges easily brings the best acting to “R.I.P.D.” Maybe it’s the soft spot in people’s hearts for The Dude, or maybe it’s the mustache, but he is the most enjoyable person to watch throughout. It’s fun watching him try to embody the Wild West in the most stereotypical way possible. People can’t even be mad about the lack of depth because he’s simply fun.

This is Peter Lenkov’s first comic, but he’s been working in Hollywood for roughly 20 years as a producer and writer. He’s written some amazing things like “Demolition Man” and some even more amazing things like “Son in Law.” So he’s a bit hit-and-miss, but he knows how to get a cult following in a film. Only avid readers can tell what the movie would have been had Schwentke followed his vision precisely.