R.I.P.D.

When Next Movie makes an spot-on side-by-side comparison between the trailers for your movie and Men in Black, you know you’re in trouble. When it could have also successfully done the same thing with your movie and Ghost and also with Ghostbusters, well, then it’s really, really bad.

Welcome to R.I.P.D.

The lame-o adaptation of Dark Horse’s 1999 comic book stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as deceased lawmen who are given the chance to continue their job, only with the undead in the real world. Their charge? Patrol the streets of Boston, sniffing out Dead-Os (as they’re called) and dispatch them to damnation.

In all fairness, R.I.P.D. actually starts out just fine. We learn that married Beantown cop Nick (Reynolds) is into something shady but that he’s had an attack of conscience and is gonna go clean. His partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon), though, doesn’t want to, and he bumps off Nick during an all-hands raid down at the docks.

After being sucked up through the clouds, Nick lands in police purgatory. There he’s greeted by Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who informs him he’s been recruited for the Rest In Peace Department and that his new partner is a crusty ol’ (dead) former Wild West lawman named Roy (Bridges).

The two then set off on their afterlife protect-and-serve mission, which is where everything goes off the rails. Of course everything ties back to Hayes, but it also involves Indian food, a golden monolith, and the absolute destruction of Boston.

There’s also the cutesy twist that Nick and Roy look nothing like themselves in the real world (otherwise Nick’s still-living wife could see him again, and we can’t have that). Nick’s avatar is an “old Chinese guy”, and Roy is Victoria’s Secret supermodel Marisa Miller, natch.

Director Robert Schwentke (RED) has cobbled together a mish-mash of genres, from sci-fi to action to (attempted) romance to drama, and the end result feels like he just threw three or four of his favorite movies into a blender and puréed until it all just became an amorphous brown pulp. There’s not much of anything here that’s original, let alone remarkable, and it never seems to even get out of second gear despite millions being spent on special effects and action sequences. If I didn’t see the famous people on the screen (most of whom have proven they can turn in quality work), I’d think I was watching some sort of low-budget, direct-to-DVD rip-off.

Screenwriting team Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Clash of the Titans) toss in a few chuckle-worthy moments along the way, but by and large R.I.P.D. should be just left to rest in peace. (Sorry, but it was too easy.)

Though Reynolds seems to have lost all the charm he had in Definitely, Maybe and The Proposal and all the comedic chops he flaunted in The Change-Up, Bridges more than makes up for it with his zany performance. He and Parker seems to be the only folks with a pulse (living or dead), and they keep the film from devolving into an absolute disaster.

At least Reynolds now has a Bacon Number of “one”. So there’s that.

2/5 stars