‘R.I.P.D.’: Half-Baked Movie Pie

Movie Review: ‘R.I.P.D.’
July 26, 2013 Updated: July 26, 2013

Bake a “Men In Black” pie crust. Then throw in a pinch of “Ghostbusters,” a teaspoon of “This Is the End,” a sprinkling of “True Grit,” and a smattering of Showtime’s “Weeds.” Now drain the fun parts out, and what do you get? The half-baked, derivative movie pie that is “R.I.P.D.”

Ryan Reynolds is a Boston cop named Nick with an unbeknown to him corrupt partner (Kevin Bacon). They stole some gold on the job; Nick wants to give it back, so his bad, bad partner shoots him dead.

Jeff Bridges plays an1800s lawman named Royceffus Pulsifer, who looks exactly like Jeff Bridges dressed up as Wild Bill Hickok while recycling the drawl of his character Rooster Cogburn from “True Grit.” (You can see why he might do that—same time period, similar nutty name.)

Upon arriving at the Pearly Gates, Nick’s karma is revealed as not having been paid in full. So Nick is sent back to earth by Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), a sort of Saint Peter in tall white boots, to be a cop in the Rest In Peace Department.

NYPD, LAPD—RIPD. Get it? By the way, it’s a 100-year tour of duty.

Royceffus is a vet, and Nick’s a rook. They do the buddy cop thing, but they have no chemistry and neither do they like each other, so that’s just tedious.

As karma-bondsmen, they chase down dead people who’ve skipped out on their karma repayments and are hiding out among us, looking normal, and hoping to weasel out of Judgment Day. Such karma-jumpers are called “Deados.”

How do you locate these Deados? Well, it would seem that if you eat food in their presence, especially in a slobbery, kids-grossing-each-other-out fashion, they will morph back into their disgusting rotten demon selves. (When it comes out on DVD, don’t watch this movie while eating or you’ll be making a rapid trip to the bathroom.)

Deados can only be killed with special glow-in-the-dark bullets that make Deados really die.

What Nick and Roy figure out is that the stolen gold that got Nick killed is part of a talisman called the Staff of Jericho, which, when reassembled, will reverse the tornado vortex of Heaven’s Gate. Instead of sucking humans up there, it will now cause the dead to rain back down here. Oh, the joyous zombie-apocalypse potential of it all. Can they stop it in time? Don’t go find out.

In this summer of CGI-rich, story-poor apocalyptic-themed movies, one good thing is that the writers have clearly been doing some research into esoteric literature and bringing rarely seen ideas to light.

In this case, the so-called Akashic Records are given an artist’s rendition. Described variously in many cultures, the records are where everything that has taken place on earth is recorded until all eternity, in another dimension. Here they are depicted as a sort of freeze frame of the events occurring at the moment of Nick’s death, which allows his spirit to have a look around in that dimension where human time has no effect, before ascending to heaven. It’s easily the best part of “R.I.P.D.”

Best funny moments: The portal from the R.I.P.D to earth (which R.I.P.D. doesn’t want you to find) goes through a VCR tuneup shop. Get it? No? Do you still have a videocassette recorder that works?

The earthly version of Nick looks like an old Chinese guy. The earthly version of Royceffus looks just like supermodel Marisa Miller. This causes some brief moments of mild comedic confusion.

Well, it’s been said that the true mission of art is to depict, exclusively, the divine in order to present the righteous moral standard for humankind. “R.I.P.D.” has a lot of biblical-type depictions—cloud portals to the heavens, the Akashic Records, a redemption theme, and so on. That’s divine stuff, right? Is R.I.P.D. therefore true art?

Ahem. Joke. Unfortunately, it’s just bad movie pie, which, if eaten in a sloppy manner, might turn you into a Deado.

2 stars

Director: Robert Schwentke

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker

Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Rating: PG-13

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