Monday, July 22, 2013

R.I.P.D. ~ Rest In Peace Deados

R.I. P. D. ~ Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
Walking into a movie like “R.I.P.D.” you have to wonder what are you getting yourself into.  Is this movie going to be like "Beetljuice," or "Ghostbusters," or maybe like the "Frighteners?”  Or, will “R.I.P.D.” be something more philosophical, like "What Dreams May Come"?  Ultimately, it turns out to be a little of all these movies mixed in a blender with a healthy dash of "Men In Black," and set on puree, and that is “R.I.P.D.”  Unfortunately, the ingredients that writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfred's script take are the least flavorful.  Some of the best parts of the film come from actor Jeff Bridges's acting and delivery, and from some of the incredable images.  “R.I.P.D.” stars Jeff Bridges ("The Big Lebowski," "True Grit"), Ryan Reynolds ("The Green Lantern,”  "Blade: Trinity "), and Kevin Bacon ("Death Sentence," "The River Wild"),  The movie runs just over an hour and a half and is rated PG-13.

Nick (Reynolds) is a good cop who along with his partner Hayes (Bacon) decided to steal some gold that they found on a drug bust.  After Nick wakes in the morning after burying the stolen gold in his backyard, he enjoys a pleasant interlude with his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak).  He has a change of heart, and decides that he doesn't want to be a part of Hayes's get rich scheme.  Predictably, Hayes kills Nick during a drug raid.  Nick is dead, and the vision of death, is pure CGI heaven.  Literally, the images of the police raid are frozen in time, birds in midflight, and the heavens opening up and Nick rising toward his great reward.  While Nick makes his journey he is suddenly pulled into a white room with a single desk, Muzak plays Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" in the background.  Sitting behind the cheap metal desk is Proctor, played Mary-Louise Parker.  The choice she offers dirty cop Nick, is to either take his chance with Judgment or he could work a hundred years for the Rest In Peace Department.  Nick takes the job.  Proctor assigns him to work with Roycephus.  In other words, he is partnered up with Jeff Bridges who still seems to be wearing his Rooster Cogburn duds from "True Grit."

We have a couple of new words to learn in the alternative world of the comic book "Rest in Peace Department" that this film was based on.  The deados are the rotting living dead, disguised as humans; their rot affects cell phone reception, global-warming, and other of our world’s ailments. Another word that is used is avatar. As a member of the Rest in Peace Department, each officer is portrayed by their avatar, and they most likely have no resemblance to the actual person they represent. 

R.I. P. D. ~ Avatars | A Constantly Racing Mind

Most of what happens in “R.I.P.D.” is somewhat predictable.  The elder more experienced cop schools the younger less experienced officer.  One of the pair plays by the rules, while the other doesn't.  Ray (Bridges) is literally an old west lawman whose partner shot him and left him to the coyotes to nibble on his carcass.  The best lines are Rays.  What helps to some degree, comically, is that when he appears to the humans, he is seen as a tall, gorgeous blonde woman played by Victoria Secret model Marisa Miller.  Nick, on the other hand, we see as character actor James Hong.
As moviegoers we have seen many of these scenes before.  Director Robert Schwentke (“RED”) pretty much goes through the paces with both the dialog and the action scenes.  The action scenes, which are plenty, seem lifeless.  Ryan Reynolds also seems to be going through the paces.  In my mind, it seems that Reynolds is still trying out for the lead as an action film star.  He tries too hard.  I mentioned that Jeff Bridges, as Roy had the best lines.  Well, that is not exactly true; it is his delivery that is funny.  Kevin Bacon and his minions of deados are cartoonish at best.

R.I. P. D. ~ Nick, Proctor, and Ray | A Constantly Racing Mind

Don't get me wrong.  “R.I.P.D.” has its moments.  The advice that Ray gives Nick about being dead and allowing his wife to move on have a certain amount of weight and humor. There are a few funny scenes that take place involving Nick reconciling his death. Also impressive, are the images of the Boston division of the Rest In Peace department. It looks like some Escheresque, cross with Steampunk and ultramodern architecture that almost makes your head spin. As mentioned before, Nick's death and his ascension towards heaven are the highlights of the film. 
Christopher Beck's score does little to heighten the action or accentuate the scene.  This is too bad, because Mr. Beck had done some wonderful compositions like the hilarious action film "RED" and other comedies including "The Hang Over” films.  A pleasant treat is Bridges's rendition of an original song "The Better Man." The song lyrics by Jeff Bridges, T-Bone Burnett, screenwriters Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, and director Robert Schwentke. 
I found “R.I.P.D.” mildly entertaining at best and mockingly devious at worst.  Devious in the sense that we have seen this all before and there is nothing new story-wise, character-wise, dialog wise or even technologically inspiring.  Wait to rent this one on DVD or Blu-ray

Movie Data

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy
Year:  2013
Staring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker
Director: Robert Schwentke
Producer(s): Michael Fottrell, Neal H. Moritz, Mike Richardson
Writer: Phil Hay Matt Manfredi
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: 7/19/2013