By Dan Metcalf
Clipper Film Correspondent
Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.
Starring Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Marisa Miller, Robert Knepper, Mike O'Malley, Devin Ratray, Larry Joe Campbell.
Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and David Dobkin, based on the Dark Horse Comic by Peter M. Lenkov.
Directed by Robert Schwentke.
I thought the “cop buddy” movie had finally run its course a few years ago, but Hollywood just can't help but keep trying to find that perfect formula of two people who are an odd couple and are somehow able to take advantage of their differences to fight crime. R.I.P.D. Is another “cop buddy” movie that delves into some of the same formulas of the past, but this time, the odd couple police partners are set in a world where they are dead, and the bad guys are evil dead people who are trying to stick around after death.
The story begins with Nick (Ryan Reynolds), a Boston detective who has just found part of a gold treasure with his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) while working a drug case. Nick hides the gold in his backyard from his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak) and tells Hayes he's had second thoughts about keeping the gold. On their next bug bust, Hayes kills Nick because he wants to keep the gold.
As Nick falls into the abyss of death, he is suddenly pulled pack into an office where an administrator named Proctor (Mary Louise Parker) informs him that he can choose to face his eternal judgement, or join the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.), a law enforcement operation that keeps evil dead people from returning to earth, where they cause all kinds of problems (you know, like crime, drugs, corruption, etc.). Nick opts to join the RIPD force and is assigned Roy (Jeff Bridges) as his partner. All the RIPD officers are former bad cops who are paying their penance by fighting evil in the world between reality and the great beyond. Roy is a cop from the old west, so he looks, talks and dresses like he did in True Grit.
To explain more might complicate things, but the RIPD officers actually exist as people who interact with people in the real world. In order to do that, the RIPD officers appear as avatars. Nick's is an old Chinese man (James Hong), while Roy's is a super-hot babe (Marissa Miller).
In the end, Nick and Roy discover that the gold is really part of a device that will allow the release of all the evil half-dead people and pretty much end the world as we know it. They must fight Hayes (who turns out to be one of the evil half dead people behind the plot) to keep all the gold pieces from becoming the portal.
RIPD looks a lot like Men In Black (and parts of Beetlejuice), but I thought it had enough unique qualities to stand out on its own. One problem might be Jeff Bridges, who basically reprises his Rooster Cogburn performance. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you thought of True Grit. I loved True Grit and especially Bridges' performance, so his RIPD role was a friendly reminder. As for Ryan Reynolds, his performance seems perfect for your garden-variety smart-mouthed cop, and he delivers some of the funnier dialogue.
So, RIPD isn't bad and turns out to be kind of fun, even if it's full of a lot of things and characters you may have seen before.