The UnPopular Opinion: R.I.P.D.

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!


Happy New Year, Schmoes! 2014 is here are what a way to kick off a brand new calendar than with an UnPopular Opinion? A lot of you agreed with some of my takes on film in 2013 and a great deal of you called for my head on a platter. So, hopefully this year promotes some more respectful discussion on contrary takes on movies. Let us begin!

Movies labeled as "formulaic" are often stigmatized as being unoriginal, uninspired, or just plain bad. But, there are tried and true formulas that work. We all enjoy a good buddy cop movie even if we have seen it time and time again. For every LETHAL WEAPON there is a RUSH HOUR where the formula is tweaked enough to give the movie a fresh feel without straying from the successful recipe. But, sometimes those formulas just go bad, like with Kevin Smith's COP OUT. Once that level of bad is hit, the formula needs to be reinvented. With MEN IN BLACK, the formula of buddy cops crossed with a genre seemed to click with audiences. In 2013, that formula was slightly tweaked from MEN IN BLACK's scifi elements to include the supernatural. R.I.P.D. was universally panned by critics and fans didn't turn out to see it.

But, R.I.P.D. has the same playful tone that MEN IN BLACK did with just as solid a cast. Where Barry Sonnenfeld's quirky movie was beloved by fans and critics, why not R.I.P.D.? In keeping with the formula, Tommy Lee Jones' grizzled veteran is played here by Jeff Bridges in full cowboy mode. While Jones often came across as bland and emotionless, Bridges hams it up as a 19th century lawman showing his rookie partner the ropes. Instead of Will Smith, we get the equally charismatic Ryan Reynolds who is still desperately trying to find a signature role for himself. Reynolds is very subdued in R.I.P.D. where he usually is a charming douchebag, here he is something of the straight man with all of the craziness surrounding him. The two actors play off of each other nicely in this utterly complicated world we have been thrust into.

Green Lantern, I would like you to meet Obadiah Stane.

Based on a comic book, R.I.P.D. takes the equally complex world of extraterrestrials from MEN IN BLACK and throws in the supernatural underworld from HELLBOY to give us a universe where cops from throughout history have to return to Earth to bring the "dead-os" back to the afterlife. There is a bit more of an edge to this film than others that fall into the PG-13 rating but not quite enough for it to reach an R. This means that the action set pieces are just cartoonish enough that they feel on the line between realistic and over-the-top which lends an all ages vibe to the movie despite the very adult subject matter. RED director Robert Schwentke lends a slight edge to the gloss of this big studio production which makes this feel like MEN IN BLACK for grown-ups. I can understand why that may have turned some critics off as the movie feels not quite adult enough for adults and a little too risque for teens. Still, there is nothing here that we haven't seen in HELLBOY or most of the superhero movies in recent years in terms of language or violence.

Usually, CGI that looks like CGI bothers me.  It takes you out of the reality of the movie and shows that you are watching something synthetic.  But, with R.I.P.D., there is a required suspension of disbelief that allowed me to watch these obviously computer generated monsters and be okay with it.  There are several major action sequences in the movie that feature our heroes chasing after a dead-o while causing massive mayhem to the city of Boston.  In every set-piece, the villain is clearly CGI but the stuntwork with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds looks and feels realistic.  Sure, their opponent is pixels, but the two of them looking realistic sold those moments for me. 

What a f*cking hottie.  And Marissa Miller, too!

Does R.I.P.D. look like it was worthy of it's $130 million budget?  Not in the grotesque creature arena, but the rest of the movie is well designed.  The Rest in Peace Department itself looks like a 21st Century version of Juno's office from BEETLEJUICE crossed with the police station from DEMOLITION MAN.  I do wish the movie spent more time in this other world rather than spending most of the time in ours, but I enjoyed every scene there.  While the abysmal box office for R.I.P.D. pretty much guarantees we will never see further films in this universe, I do think a sequel would have given us more in this purgatory universe.  At the very least, seeing Mary-Louise Parker in knee high socks and a short skirt would have made it worthwhile.

At a short 95 minutes, R.I.P.D. races along without slowing down for even a moment.  With the formula in place, we go from a living Ryan Reynolds to a dead one within the first ten minutes.  By the twenty minute mark, we already know the villain, have met Jeff Bridges character, and have a working knowledge of how the universe works.  With some movies using this same formula, we are forced to sit through tedious exposition to understand the rules the movie will abide by.  R.I.P.D. has rules but the screenwriters don't bog down the story by forcing us to learn a laundry list of them.  Whether it be discovering who is dead by the use of Indian food, the principle of keeping a relaxed body during impact, or how Bridges' cowboy was killed, R.I.P.D. feels like a fully functioning universe unto itself.

You smell like bacon, boy.

Overall, I found R.I.P.D. a satisfying action movie with a good amount of comedy. In terms of the formula, I found it much more enjoyable than either MEN IN BLACK sequel and pretty close to the original film itself. Jeff Bridges always makes for an entertaining cowboy and I still think Ryan Reynolds is a likeable big screen hero. I prefer him a little more contained as he is here rather than the manic man-child he often portrays. Robert Schwentke does a nice job directing this insane concept of a movie. In comparison to a lot of the movies released in 2013, R.I.P.D. should have fared a lot better than it did. Chalk it up to poor marketing, but this is a nice looking studio picture and an enjoyable 90 minute thrill ride. You could do a hell of a lot worse than this.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com



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