I can think of only two scenarios in which you should see “R.I.P.D.” (1) You’re Ryan Reynolds’ mother, and you’re comfortable admitting that. (2) It’s day six of the worst heat wave in years and you’ve woken up at 6 a.m. in a pool of sweat because you have some ill-conceived notion that it doesn’t get that hot in New England, but now all you want to do is get the hell out of your sauna of an apartment and sit in a dark, air-conditioned room with strangers for a few hours. Plus, you’ve already seen “White House Down.” One of these situations applied to me.
“R.I.P.D.” is a buddy cop movie directed by Robert Schwentke (“Flightplan,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife”) and based on a comic book by Peter Lenkov, who also wrote the screenplays for such gems as “Demolition Man” and “Son in Law” (though, oddly, he did not write the screenplay for this film). It stars everyone’s second-favorite Alanis Morissette ex, Ryan Reynolds, and Jeff Bridges, as said buddy cops. It’s also got Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak and Kevin Bacon, who has now edged out Kevin Costner for the worst Boston accent of all time.
The premise of “R.I.P.D.” is well-worn territory. As you may have heard, it’s basically “Men In Black” meets “Ghostbusters” — except that’s an insult to both those films. Reynolds plays Nick Walker, an ace cop, who is cut down in his prime by his crooked partner (Bacon) and is assigned to atone for his misdeeds by spending the afterlife working for a supernatural law-enforcement agency charged with detaining renegade souls called “deados.” His new partner Roy Pulsipher (Bridges) is a not-so-wise-cracking Wild West-era lawman, who has an itchy trigger finger and a weird sexual obsession with women’s ankles. The two butt heads initially as Walker learns to deal with being dead, but eventually, they put aside their differences in order to stop the apocalypse. You know, typical buddy movie nonsense.
The concept is fine and it may very well work as a comic book. But, every aspect of the film is executed so poorly that you’ll find yourself seriously considering ducking out early to catch the second half of “White House Down” again just to get your money’s worth. There’s no chemistry between the characters. Bridges and Parker are clearly just here to cash their checks. Bacon once again does not live up to his namesake. And Reynolds is completely casted incorrectly, as the straight man. This may be the first movie in Reynolds’ career where he’s the one telling the other character to shut his mouth. This may also be the first movie where Reynolds doesn’t take off his shirt. The dude has two talents, and neither of them are utilized in this film. Instead, we get 90-plus minutes of banter that’s not as clever as it needs to be and special effects that make you appreciate Michael Bay. In short, it’s real bad.
Five things about “R.I.P.D.”:
1. This is the second buddy cop movie of the summer set in Boston (the other being the perfectly OK “The Heat”). I really hope Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis is earning royalties from these films and putting them toward his mayoral campaign. I also have my fingers crossed that Davis will run for mayor, or at least give me a high five.
2. At one point, Roy asks Nick if he had some sort of pact in which Bacon’s character would scrub the porn off Nick’s computer after Nick died. This is an interesting concept, and I wonder if there is anyone out there who has made such arrangements. At the same time, I wonder why anyone would keep porn on their computer when there’s the internet. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments section below.
3. This movie is slightly more enjoyable if you imagine Roy as a reprisal of Rooster Cogburn, Bridges’ Oscar-nominated role from the 2010 Western “True Grit.” Roy and Rooster have essentially the same background, and I’m fairly certain Bridges uses the same voice for both. It’s not inconceivable that, like Roy, Rooster would’ve been devoured by coyotes after he died.
4. Roy introduces another concept that I really like called “mouth feel.” Being dead, Roy and Nick can’t taste food, apparently. Still, Roy likes to eat hot dogs at Fenway Park because he likes the mouth feel. This might’ve been the only part of the movie that made me chuckle.
5. Go see “White House Down” instead of this movie.