2013, Movie, PG-13, 96 mins


R.I.P.D. is a perfectly watchable movie if you are an 11-year-old boy. If you’re not an 11-year-old boy, it’s a dumb, tedious retread of the Men in Black franchise, but with a more awkward premise and a schlocky, sentimental subplot.

The main character is Nick (Ryan Reynolds), a cop with an adoring French wife (Stephanie Szostak) whose shady partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) kills him when he refuses to go in with him on a backroom deal to steal some big hunks of gold found in the back of a drug-dealer’s house during a meth-lab bust. However, when Nick dies, instead of being ushered up to Heaven, he’s recruited into the R.I. P.D. (Rest in Peace Division), an elite afterlife police force who seek out and arrest nefarious dead people still hiding amongst the living, and who outwardly reveal themselves as the hideous monsters they are on the inside when faced with the scrutiny of R.I.P.D. interrogation. Nick is assigned a screwball, plays-by-his-own-rules partner named Roy (Jeff Bridges), a grizzled old sheriff who lived 100 years ago in the Old West, and together, the two go back to Earth to discover a potentially apocalyptic conspiracy among the ominous “deados” to end all life as we know it. Of course, nobody would be able to handle seeing Nick running around again like this when he’s supposed to be dead, so R.I.P.D. cops magically appear to the living as completely different people, who we occasionally get a glimpse of when seeing them from someone else’s perspective. Roy appears to the living as Victoria’s Secret model Marissa Miller, while Nick appears as David Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China.

Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges are both likeable actors -- who wouldn’t green-light a buddy cop movie that teams the Dude with Van Wilder? But the execution is pretty uncreative and stupid, and the gross-out factor is kind of high for a popcorn flick. It’s also really uncomfortable sitting through the heartstrings B-story about Nick and his wonderful wife being tearfully separated, considering that earnest emotion has zero place in a film about rotting, obese monsters. Not to mention that the whole idea is kind of weird in the first place -- we’re supposed to accept a spiritual premise for this wacky summer movie full of cowboy one-liners and a gun that can destroy your soul? For the middle-school target demo with a summer afternoon to kill, these many faults may not matter. But for everybody else, beware: R.I.P.D. is dead on arrival. leave a comment --Cammila Collar

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