Sometimes, not often, but sometimes actors with genuine chemistry, who also seem to be having fun, translates into an enjoyable afternoon at the movies. Such is “R.I.P.D.“
Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston police officer who is killed in the line of duty. Upon his death, he jarringly lands in the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D.), at the desk of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker). She explains that she is his boss and that R.I.P.D. is a sort of waiting station for law enforcement folk whose ultimate fate has yet to be decided—thumb’s “up” or “down” in the truest sense (for those of you who watched the final episode of “Lost,” this scenario might make more sense to you). The department is charged with finding and killing criminals who are dead—deados—but because they haven’t accepted their fate, still function on Earth. Complicated? It was to me and I admit that it took me a while to completely understand this concept.
Proctor partners Nick with Roy (Jeff Bridges), a lawman from the 1800s, and their assignment is to return to Earth and finish off the Boston deados. Complicating the job is that Nick primarily wants to find out who killed him and is still grieving over the fact that he never said good-bye to his wife. Oh, one more thing. When Nick and Roy come back to Earth, they won’t look like their former selves. That accounts for much of the movie’s fun. You might think this gag would grow old, but it never does. Some of that credit must go to veteran character actor, James Hong.
Kevin Bacon is very good as Nick’s former partner. So glum and serious in “The Following,” he’s anything but in R.I.P.D, and it’s highly entertaining.
Parker, Reynolds and Bridges are all terrific and really seem to be having fun with their roles and with each other. Bridges in particular looks like he just walked over from the “True Grit” set—he is every inch the former lawman and if he was any more grizzled, one wouldn’t be able to understand him.
“R.I.P.D.” does have special effects and fun weapons and they all work without overwhelming the film (but 3D is not necessary—save your money). Nick’s “death” scene is spectacular as are some of the transformations that occur.
So what stops “R.I.P.D.” from being a better movie? Something is missing and it’s hard to put one’s finger on it. Robert Schwentke’s direction seems to lack snap or point of view. Maybe the screenplay written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, with story by David Dobkin and Manfredi, based on Peter M. Lenkov’s “Dark Horse” comic, is lacking.
So, while “R.I.P.D.” has its short-comings, it is fun…not memorable, but fun nevertheless. On a hot, summer day, that can be just the ticket.
2 nuggets out of 4