Now Playing: Dead in Black

I’ve spoken with many people about their thoughts on seeing ‘R.I.P.D.’ this weekend, and 9 out of 10 of them have said that the movie looks terrible. In addition, I’ve heard rumors that a lot of studio people are worried that this $130 million-budgeted film won’t even top out at $15 million this weekend. It’s a tough call, as several other movies open against it, including a horror flick that’s been generating a lot of good buzz. However, I have to say that ‘R.I.P.D.’ (which is based on a Dark Horse comic series) is surprisingly a lot of fun. Sure, it’s silly, stupid fun, but nonetheless entertaining.

If you’ve seen the trailers for the movie, you already know that it’s a blatant cross between ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Ghostbusters’, with a hint of ‘The Frighteners’. The title stands for Rest in Peace Department, a group in charge of capturing demons and dead people who refuse to accept their fate in heaven or hell and try to stay on Earth in disguise. We find out that these undead beings are responsible for some of the world’s problems, including global warming. The officers of the R.I.P.D. are tasked with tracking these souls down and returning them to the heavenly gates for judgment, or as we see constantly, being shot with a special gun that immediately disintegrates them.

At the start, we meet Nick (Ryan Reynolds), a Boston police officer who is gunned down at point-blank range during a drug bust. We immediately enter the world of the R.I.P.D., where Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker, also in this week’s ‘RED 2’) is in charge of the division. She gives Nick a tutorial on his new afterlife. Much like ‘Men in Black’, big doors open to reveal a large office full of people at desks doing random tasks, while we see some of the scary-looking undead walking around in handcuffs trying to escape. It’s all too familiar.

Nick gets paired up with Roy (Jeff Bridges, playing exactly the same character he played in ‘True Grit’). The two travel back to Earth by way of being flushed down a toilet (‘Harry Potter’, anyone?). The regular living can see them plain as day, but they appear to be different people. Meaning, Reynolds looks like an old Chinese guy (James Hong) and Bridges is a beautiful blonde model (Marisa Miller). Some bad undead guys have stolen artifacts to summon the zombie apocalypse on Earth, and it’s up to this rag-tag duo to stop the world from ending.

Director Robert Schwentke is known for making ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, ‘Flightplan’ and ‘RED’ (the sequel for which, that he obviously turned down, comes out this weekend as well). Schwentke keeps the movie at just 95 minutes, which might be a little too short, as background info about the R.I.P.D. world zooms by so quickly that we don’t get a good look at or taste of anything going on. The camerawork is much the same way, which can actually be a positive. There are no long or overdrawn camera shots, but rather quick, zooming pans along with back-breaking camera angles that keep things upbeat and interesting.

Ryan Reynolds is usually the funny leading man in movies like this, but he takes a back seat to the comedy this time while Jeff Bridges owns this movie. Bridges’ mannerisms, dialogue, and accent are solid gold. Almost every line delivered out of his mouth gets a laugh, while Reynolds plays it straight-laced. Parker does a solid job, and Kevin Bacon makes a good cameo as well. ‘R.I.P.D.’ is a silly stupid mess of a film, but that being said, I had a ball with it. It’s entertaining, fun, and packs enough laughs to warrant a viewing.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

5 comments

  1. Parts of this were shot near my office. A street that I walk down every day is seen prominently in the trailer.

    The production dressed up a newsstand to look like a VCR repair shop, which seems odd for a movie that appears to take place in the present day. Is that VCR shop a plot point in the movie, or just a random bit of silliness?

  2. So in the review, I mention they travel to Earth via toilet like in Harry Potter, well, as to not cause suspicion of their entry, they cross over through the toilet of a VCR repair shop as nobody this day in age would ever go into one. It’s mentioned in the movie.

    • OK, at least they explain it. Was very odd to walk down the street and suddenly see a VCR shop there, like I’d been transported back in time to 1986. 🙂

  3. R.I.P.D. looked fun to me, only because I like seeing James Hong once again getting some significant screentime in a big movie (he certainly deserves it, given his long career).

    Believe it or not, by local theater isn’t even SHOWING R.I.P.D., so I may not get to see this until Blu-ray.

  4. Drew

    Shannon, what city do you live in?

    That’s unbelievable! There isn’t a theater within reasonable driving distance, that’s playing ‘R.I.P.D.’?

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