July 25, 2013

'R.I.P.D.' short on originality, story


---- — Sadly, the supernatural action comedy “R.I.P.D.” is D.O.A.

Mostly a RIP-off of the far superior “Men in Black,” Hollywood’s latest comic-book adaptation is extremely short on originality and story, wasting a not-bad concept and a strong cast.

Ryan Reynolds co-stars as Nick Walker, a mostly good Boston policeman who makes one questionable decision and is killed in the line of duty before he can rectify it.

After a nicely frozen moment in time, Nick is whisked to the afterlife, where he is assigned to the Rest In Peace Department, a heavenly law-enforcement division devoted to apprehending deados: dead souls that have escaped back to earth.

Jeff Bridges — in a goofy performance that is three parts Rooster Cogburn, one part the Dude — is Nick’s veteran partner, mustachioed Wild Bill Hickock-era lawman Roy Pulsifer.

In order to avoid detection, Nick and Roy are disguised when they are on earth — appearing as an old Asian man and a blonde supermodel, respectively. The deados are likewise hard to spot, seemingly normal until the proper amount of good police work forces them into their grotesque true forms.

A criminally underused Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds”) is Proctor, the weary and sarcastic personnel manager who directs the two cops. Kevin Bacon is Nick’s generic partner gone bad. Stephanie Szostak (“Dinner for Schmucks”) is Nick’s grieving widow.

Despite a hefty CGI budget, “R.I.P.D.” can’t replicate the energy or fun that the original “Men in Black” brought to the screen. There are certainly some humorous bits and scenes, almost all of them courtesy of Bridges, but there’s hardly an original moment in the entire movie.

The two partners spar with each other for a while, hunt down some bad guys and uncover a potential apocalypse that no one else can stop. It’s been done before, and better. Even the effects are no more than average, and none of the supernatural creatures are memorable.

Imagined as the start of a series, “R.I.P.D.” will without question be put to rest after just one attempt.

Rental Recommendation: Back when Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan were still big names, “D.O.A.” was a satisfying mystery. Grade: B+

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Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker

Rated: PG-13 (violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality and language, including sex references

Running time: 96 minutes