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Sometimes I base my decision on whether to see a movie or not from what I hear other movie critics say about the film. In the case of R.I.P.D. I’m glad that I set aside the poor ratings it was getting from a few guys whose reviews I enjoy reading and the 11% the film was getting on Rotten Tomatoes and saw it anyway. I’m glad I went based on my instincts, because although it wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen all summer, it was really enjoyable.

Why I Saw It: The trailers made the film look like it was a combination of some other movies I’ve enjoyed – Men In Black and Constantine. I didn’t have huge hopes that this was going to be an all-time great film, or even a generational classic, but I was expecting some decent shoot-outs and fun banter between Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. Any glimpses of Marisa Miller looking hot? That’s a bonus.

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Good moment for the film… not a hot moment for Marisa Miller… it’s cool, there’s plenty of them.

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What Was It About?  ”A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

Rating: 7.8 out of 10

Memorable Performances: I have to think really hard to find a performance I didn’t enjoy from Jeff Bridges… and nothing’s coming to mind. I didn’t particularly enjoy  True Grit, but he was good in that. Same with Men Who Stare At Goats. He was just as entertaining in R.I.P.D. as I was expecting, though it certainly isn’t as iconic a role as The Big Lebowski. I will probably have Roy from this film as one of his more memorable performances, because he did provide quite a few laughs. Whether he was delivering great lines or just adding nuances like driving a car while turned sideways, I defy someone to say they weren’t entertained by Jeff Bridges in this film.

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Ryan Reynolds was decent here as well. He perhaps could’ve shown a bit more emotional depth at times, but it’s not as if he was especially underwhelming in that aspect – there weren’t necessarily that many opportunities for it. As a character who’s trying to mentally adjust to his new “profession” and existential state of being, he did just fine. Where he works out well is as the partner to Jeff Bridges, as they both bring different things to the table. Reynolds was perfectly adequate as the straight-forward, modern day cop to help juxtapose Jeff Bridges’ quirky, gun-slinging lawman from the 1800′s. The interactions between the two were funny, though they fell short of what Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones did in the Men In Black series… probably due to limitations in the script.

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Kevin Bacon was above-average as Ryan Reynolds’ questionably-moraled partner from his days of the living, though I only say “above-average” because I’ve seen other roles where the actor takes the performance a bit too far and it ends up detracting from the film. At times, Bacon actually added a little something to the character, which helped us care a bit more about that aspect of the film. Mary-Louise Parker was far more enjoyable as Proctor than what she does in RED, giving a performance where she gives a hard-ass approach to administrating the R.I.P.D. and mixes in some spunkiness.

Stephanie Szostak is underwhelming as the wife to Reynolds’ character, but something about the performance kept me from getting too attached to the character. Not that there were many opportunities, but there just didn’t seem to be any chemistry between she and Reynolds. James Hong doesn’t have much to do as the avatar for Reynolds’ character, but he got a few laughs here and there just for doing a decent job. Marisa Miller didn’t hit any homeruns, but she also didn’t strikeout as the avatar for Bridges’ character, so I’m expecting she’ll be in more feature films in the coming years… which is a good thing.

Potential Nominations for Film Quest ’13:  

  • Best Supporting Actor – Jeff Bridges

Favorite Parts: Jeff Bridges driving a car, teaching Ryan Reynolds how to interrogate a potential violator, and the special effects were all positives of the film – especially the moments where time stands still, those were excellent visuals.

The Regrettable Aspects: Like I mentioned before, I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Stephanie Szostak, which hurt the film. At 1 hr 36 min, a film that felt shorter than it actually was could’ve benefited a bit from having some scenes to help attach the audience to those characters, emotionally. When Jeff Bridges tells Ryan Reynolds that he needs to emotionally detach himself, I was already there. And did they really need to make one of the bad guys an extremely obese character? I’m not saying it was hard to watch like with Two-Face in Dark Knight or with Gary Oldman’s character in the Hannibal movie, but he was grotesque looking to be sure.

Would I watch it again? If a sequel is ever made, which is doubtful at this stage based on the revenue it’s getting and the negative reviews, I’d watch R.I.P.D. in preparation for viewing the second installment – which I’d absolutely pay to go see. If it’s on a streaming service or cable somewhere, I’ll certainly check it out. I told my wife that I’d watch it with her when it’s readily available for cheap home viewing, but at this point I’m not going to make it a priority.

To Whom Would I Recommend It?  Anyone who liked Men In Black should give this a try. The concept is a bit absurd, but perhaps no more absurd than the aforementioned trilogy, and although not as hip as what it’s getting compared to, it was a fun ride.

Other Recommendations:

MEN IN BLACK – You’re shocked that I’d recommend that, right? I think I only mentioned it fourteen times in the article… Well let me specify that I’m only referring to the first film in that series. The second one is forgettable, and although I hear decent things about the third installment, I can’t personally vouch for something I haven’t seen.

THE BIG LEBOWSKI - Though I’m far from the biggest proponent of this film, I do acknowledge that it has a huge cult following, and a lot of people consider it one of their favorite comedies of all time. If you like Jeff Bridges or want to see what he’s really capable of doing in a comedic role, this is where you should look. (review)

SMOKIN’ ACES - I’m not sure why I ever saw that film, but I really enjoyed it. If you want to see a good performance from Ryan Reynolds where he carries a gun and shoots at people and acts like a cop, that’s the one you should see. I had low expectations and it really surprised me. (review)

If you’ve got recommendations for alternatives to R.I.P.D., or for other similar films, let me know!

I have been chronicling my Film Quest 2013 in another location. Next up in the list there… Due Date!

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