ripdBeing Dead Isn't All It Is Cracked Up To Be

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Robert Knepper, Stephanie Szostak, Marisa Miller and James Hong
Director: Robert Schwentke
Scriptwriters: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi from the novel "Rest In Peace Department" by Peter M. Lenkov
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 96 minutes
The premise for this movie must have looked good on paper, but on the screen, it is very much like the “Men in Black” film series. The difference being, in “R.I.P.D.“ police officers, who are dead, go after criminal creatures, who are dead. “Men in Black” relied on space aliens as the enemy. Ryan Reynolds (Nick) and Jeff Bridges (Roy) are the two police officers and  no one can see them, so their appearance to humans is that of someone else. Nick, handsome guy that he is, looks like an elderly Asian gentleman, aptly played by the always-a-pleasure-to-watch James Hong. Bridges gets a beautiful blonde woman as his “appearance” (Marissa Miller.) Being dead isn't all it’s cracked up to be.
The story begins with Nick and Roy chasing a bad guy (known as a deado) and then we flash back a few hours to how this scenario began. In real life, Nick’s police partner was Bobby (Kevin Bacon) who gave Nick part of a gold robbery, but Nick doesn't want to keep it. Nick, of course, is bumped off, goes to the Rest In Peace Department and meets Mildred (Mary-Louise Parker) who is head of Nick and Roy’s “dead” division. Nick is partnered with Roy, an old Wild West lawman who acts like the late Lee Marvin in “Cat Ballou” and looks like General Custer. The joke being that people see James Hong instead of Nick and Marissa Miller instead of Roy. The luck of the draw. From here on, Nick and Roy chase deado’s with the spice cumin which the deado's dislike. Nick wishes he could be with his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak), but finds that Bobby is moving in on his territory and telling Julia that Nick was the bad cop, instead of the other way around. Eventually, the duo finds that Bobby wants to reconstruct the Staff of Jericho that will bring the dead back to Earth. He needs a sacrifice and guess who that will be.
“R. I. P. D.” has a storyline that goes from one end of the spectrum to another. You are alive, then dead, then look like someone else, then have to hunt once-dead deado’s and you do this because you are a smart cop and because there is another place besides Heaven. Jeff Bridges is so broad in the role of Roy, the rest of the cast might as well sit on the sidelines. Ryan Reynolds manages to make his mark, but only when he is off-stage from Bridges. Kevin Bacon is an adequate villain and be sure and notice, Stanley (Robert Knepper from “Prison Break”) whose scenes are noteworthy.
I didn't think “R.I.P.D.” had a storyline that was easily followed and Jeff Bridges acting was over-the-top compared to others in the cast. It got tiresome. Humor comes from the reactions of humans to James Hong or Marissa Miller, and the pratfalls that occur in chasing deados. Special effects are OK, but “Men in Black” still lingers.  
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
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