By Laurie Coker
My guest nailed it when he said that RIPD is like Ghostbusters, but it feels and looks a good deal like Men in Black too. Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon star in RIPD, a rip-roaring, wild, CGI adventure ride taking place somewhere between Heaven and Hell in more ways than one. Riddle with plot and plausibility holes, director Robert Schwentke’s movie suffers from an asinine storyline and ridiculously overdone visual effects, but ultimately, RIPD’s cast hold this mess of a movie together.
Nick (Reynolds) finds himself in as sort of limbo (a place just before judgment day), because his crooked partner (Bacon) shoots him, after Nick, who is madly in love with his wife, decides to come clean about some gold found during an arrest. Nick wakes after the shooting, face to face with proctor (Parker) a no nonsense gal who appears to be in charge. She gives him his options (one really) and shortly after, he is coupled with a new partner, Roy (Bridges) as the newest member of the RIPD, a police department (manned by former, now deceased cops). There sole responsibility is to bring “deados” (dead people who are avoiding Hell and living on Earth) to their judgment day.
Suspension of belief is tantamount to getting any enjoyment out of RIPD – well, that and an admiration for its cast. When Roy and Nick, whose afterlife vessels look like an old Chinese man (Nick) and a super, super hot statuesque woman (Roy), venture into the city to bring back deados, they can interact with humans, but obey none of the rules of humans. They race though the streets crashing into everything, fire bizarre weapons, tear up buildings and cause a near catastrophic disaster – a mess of all messes, which they must clean up in order to save the world – and no one notices or seems to care. It’s all pretty stupid, really.
Brilliant Bridges and Bacon are in true form and Reynolds rides hard right beside them, although casting here might be called type-casting. Their characters are completely unfresh and every action they take is entirely predictable, but it doesn’t matter too much because these guys are fun to watch. We see little of Parker, but moments between her Bridges garner a few chuckles. Still with that said, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s screenplay lacks the catchy, well-timed dialogue (even with this cast) necessary for success in this genre. It matters little, however, when a film has big named stars, who can make up for the blunders in script and timing. This is not the case in all instances, but it is with RIPD. Were it not for casting, all about RIPD would RIP, and at this point I am guessing it will die and earlier death than creators hope.
I can’t say I hated RIPD. It is thankfully brief in runtime, garners only a PG-13 rating (my grandson was entertained) and has four stars to hold it up some, but I can only place a C- in my grade book. I’d put lower, but my two guests (one nine and one sixty) seemed to find it satisfying.