R.I.P.D.

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Release Date: July 19, 2013
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Jeff Bridges; Ryan Reynolds; Kevin Bacon; Mary-Louise Parker; Stephanie Szostak; Marisa Miller; James Hong

OMG this movie sucks. Basically, this is an attempt to reimagine the “Men In Black” franchise with new stars and new monsters. The story is essentially the same, but whatever it was that made the “MIB” movies work is fatally absent here.

So it turns out that when some people die, they don’t go to heaven or hell, but just go back down to earth and live as if they were still alive. Enter the R.I.P.D (Rest In Peace Department, yuk, yuk), whose main objective is to track down these Dead’O’s, as they are called, and return them to the afterlife where they belong.

When Nick (Ryan Reynolds), a hotshot Boston cop, is killed in the line of duty, he is immediately summoned to the R.I.P.D’s Boston headquarters. After a briefing by a snarky intake officer (Mary-Louise Parker), Nick is introduced to his partner, Roy (Jeff Bridges), a Wild West leftover in the style of Yosemite Sam. Together they track down Dead-O’s and try to prevent them from collecting the pieces of an ancient bauble which, when properly assembled, will allow the dead to reclaim the earth.

As directed by Robert Schwentke (“Flightplan”) and photographed by Alwin H. Kuchler (“Morning Glory”), the, ahem, plot is merely an excuse for some camera showboating. So many angles, so many fancy tricks, in no service to the story but to only emphasize style. For that matter, why is this movie in 3D?? There is absolutely no justification whatsoever, other than higher ticket prices, for this. Nothing came flying out of the screen at me. No super cool effects that would be in any way enhanced by adding a third dimension. Completely unnecessary. I’m actually insulted that this is being shown in 3D.

As for the performances, only Bridges, Parker, and Kevin Bacon (as Nick’s former partner), appear to be in on the joke and aware that they are appearing in a piece of wannabe blockbuster junk. Each has that twinkle in their eye that only seasoned actors too good for the material have when they know that they are acting in a movie that will pay off their house. Bridges has about as much fun as he can as an old west shit-kicker. The movie gets some mileage out of the fact that while on earth, the living see Roy as a hot blonde (Marisa Miller) and Nick as an old Asian man (James Hong). But those jokes become routine and played out very quickly. Reynolds, as much as I like him as an actor and as a celebrity, is dullsville here; he has only one facial expression for every emotion he is required to conjure up. Other performances are inconsequential.

There are only two good things I can say about R.I.P.D: 1) it only runs 96 minutes, and 2) I saw it for free.

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