R.I.P.D. Serves the Living with Lighthearted Humour not to be taken too Seriously

Who would have thought that a movie about policing the dead would end up making for a clever and entertaining Thursday night? We apathetically attended the screening for R.I.P.D. last night and wound up leaving pleasantly surprised, dare I say impressed by what could have been a terrible, horrible movie.

Brief synopsis: A recently slain cop named Nick (Ryan Reynolds) joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, whose job is primarily to wrangle the escaped dead who roam our mortal streets and putting them back where they belong. 

Nick is partnered with Roy (Jeff Bridges), a loose cannon cowboy with his own way of handling things. They’re both under the supervision of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who has her own complicated relationship with Roy and the precinct. When Nick and Roy stumble on a case linked to Nick’s own murder, the two find themselves in the middle of the apocalypse, the end of the world resting on their shoulders.

The first twenty minutes sets the pace for the rest of the movie. There are some interesting camera shots; shots that make the first action sequence look much like a video game with quick zoom in shots on targets, rapid movement around corners, close-ups on people in action. Based on the comic book, they really took advantage of that comic world and brought that to the screen for a very cool and distinctive feel. However, with the 3D component, the quick jetting around was sometimes a little too much to handle, but it was brief and unique enough to make it worth it. 

From there, things shift from video game format to a reminiscence of Ghost or What Dreams Will Come, where your hero crosses over to the other side for the first time and has to deal with the change in life status. The transition holds a refreshing tone, despite it being done in many movies before, which helps give the movie a bit more of a credible feel instead of seeming cheesy.

This is where we first meet Proctor, a recruit so to speak, who presents Nick with his choice between a 100 year tour with the R.I.P.D or facing judgement and trying his odds against the big guy. While the character’s mannerisms and overall feel doesn’t stray too far from her iconic Nancy Botwin in Weeds, Parker is still delightful in the role and her banter with Bridges adds a lighthearted comedic component that again, doesn’t seem cheesy and makes for some of the better moments in the film.

Reynolds is trying his hand again at the leading man role, which we feel he often seems to struggle with. We have nothing against him, he’s a fine enough actor, but often he doesn’t seem to really rise to his full potential, or the potential needed to carry a movie. He’s great with the side kick one liners, he creates a strong dynamic between characters and certainly isn’t to be forgotten about, but the reason Reynolds works so well in this movie is because of Bridges. Hands down.

Bridges brings the Wild, Wild West to gunslinger Roy. He’s always running his mouth, spouting ridiculous anecdotes and wearing a cloak of cocky arrogance, but the kind of arrogance that is almost charming from a veteran officer who’s been on the job forever. His emotional attachment to his hat, the way he breaks in the Rookie, it’s all entertaining and laughable. Apparently Zach Galifianakis was suppose to play this role, but we really can’t think of anyone who would have done a better job than Bridges.

Overall, R.I.P.D. has a real Men in Black feel to it, right down to the CGI “Deados” that seem to be very similar to the aliens hunted in MIB. There’s been a lot of talk that it’s a blatant rip-off, even. And sure, it’s not the most original or well made movie, but keeping that in mind, it’s still a fun enough movie that adds a bit of comedy to the afterlife in a somewhat reviving way.

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