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RIPD (Rest in Peace Department) arrived into the summer of 2013 in a very interesting spot. On one hand the film was a virtual unknown except for the few people who read the Dark Horse comic series by the same name, but on the other hand the premise had received some interesting buzz within the film community, buzz that was only aided by the fact that Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds were going to play the film’s two leads, Roy Pulsipher and Nick Walker, respectively. The buzz seemed to be completely destroyed, however, when the trailer for this film hit, making it look like nothing more than a Men in Black rip off. Also making the opening of RIPD even more interesting is that the film’s director Robert Schwentke was competing against an existing franchise based on another graphic novel, Red 2, of which he directed the original. The film’s release date also put Mary Louise Parker in competition with herself because she also appears in Red 2. With all the being said, where did RIPD land? Was it as interesting as the film community initially thought or was it simply a Men in Black rehash? Find out after the break……
Unlike certain characters in the film, RIPD is every bit as predictable as it appears to be!
Calling RIPD a Men in Black rehash may be a disservice to one of the biggest blockbusters of the 1990’s and, even worse, it makes RIPD seem a little better than it actually is by mentioning it in the same breath as that film. RIPD is not a complete unentertaining film, though. The problem with it is that it tries to be overly formulaic rather than embracing the things that could have made it unique. For example the villains (referred to as Deados, who are deceased fugitives the Rest in Peace department continually chase) feel like a cheap knockoff of the aliens from MIB rather than their own thing. While this imitation takes place at a visual level, it also takes place on a situational one. Rather than taking their jobs seriously, the members of the RIPD choose to turn every paranormal fugitive chase into a comedic exercise. Instead of this approach, the film would have benefited if screen writers Phil Hay and Matt Mamfredi would have taken the story a little more seriously when adapting it, which may have resulted in something truly unique or, at the very least, made the stakes of the film feel a bit higher.
Mary Louise Parker is as good in RIPD, as she is in everything else!
It seems like ever since The Avengers made over a billion dollars at the box office the majority of screen writers in Hollywood have had a fascination with inter-dimensional portals that could lead to the end of life as we know it. We can now easily say with RIPD that Hollywood has finally beaten that dead horse of a trope beyond death! Seriously though: the WGA (Writers Guild of America) needs to ban this plot device for at least a year!
Regardless of whether his character is dead or alive, Kevin Bacon always seem to excel at playing the scum bag!
Surprisingly, RIPD was not all bad; the film manages to be barely kept alive primarily because of it’s performances. Jeff Bridges is pretty solid and often hilarious, even if some of the humor his character provided was somewhat juvenile. Ryan Reynolds seemed to really mail it in, but that may have been in large part to how stereotypical and horribly written his character was. As far as Bridges and Reynolds together, it never truly felt as if they they had developed the rapport necessary to carry a buddy cop franchise, but based on the utter failure RIPD was at the box office that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, the film’s best chemistry was felt between Jeff Bridges and Mary Louise Parker, who is always delightful in anything she does. As delightful as Mary Louise Parker always is, Kevin Bacon always has a place in film or television as either a tortured soul or a sleaze bag, in this one he plays the latter with entertaining results.
In RIPD Jeff Bridges delivers some cheap, but effective laughs!
Ultimately RIPD is able to avert complete disaster thanks to a decent cast, however in the end it just isn't able to escape the shackles of it's overly formulaic script, resulting in a film that doesn't even do a good job of paying tribute to the films it is trying to emulate but instead chooses to imitate them in a movie that has a very direct to video feel.