R.I.P.D. is an exercise is adequacy. Perfectly passable comic book antics abound in Robert Schwentke’s film, that, though never exactly boring, are just kind of unfortunate and not very funny. Directed with a similar medicated ADHD style as the filmmaker’s RED, the supernatural buddy cop story owes a sizable debt to Men In Black, yet at the same time seems paltry next to a film 16 years its senior. Not only do the offices of the Rest In Peace Department and the fugitive creatures encountered by resurrected lawmen Roy (Jeff Bridges) and Nick (Ryan Reynolds) feel like cheap knockoffs, but the banter between the grizzled veteran and his green partner come off like a MAD TV sketch of Agents Jay and Kay.
Despite this central clunkiness, Schwentke generally provides enough visual interest (the freeze-frame depiction of death is especially nice) and keeps things moving with a search for mysterious gold pieces capable of enacting all kinds of mayhem on Earth. Aiding the wild pace is Bridges’ poor plagiarizing of his own True Grit accent, which begins as a sonic nightmare and gradually becomes somewhat endearing. Too much from him, however, is almost mandatory to compensate for the block of wood that is Reynolds. For a film chocked with otherworldly elements, Nick’s lack of wonder and the banality of adversaries both good (Mary-Louise Parker) and bad (Kevin Bacon) keep the proceedings more odd than amusing. Due to this mismanagement of talent, what R.I.P.D. gains in relative freshness over the summer’s myriad retread sequels is mostly lost in its weird attempts at being, well, weird. That its finale features yet another city under siege by unearthly forces doesn’t help, but by that juncture the film’s middling reputation has long since solidified.
Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.
R.I.P.D. is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.