Have you ever been so excited about a movie from its trailers, in this case the Bridges-Reynolds comic book adaption R.I.P.D., that you could pretty much predict the film itself was going to be an automatic disappointment seeing as you built it up in your mind beyond the expectations of immortal Greek gods?
Of course you have. What self-described over-analyzing critic of cinema hasn’t?
The real question is, have you ever been so eager for a flick that when it ended up being so god-awful, you immediately started filling out the paperwork to have yourself admitted to a witness protection program due to the sheer embarrassment of having even a twinkle of enthusiasm for said film in the first place?
If so, welcome to the elite club of those who lost a round of trailer roulette. (Aka, the game where you go all or nothing into a film based solely on the content of one 60 second preview.) This is a tough confession, but this Outlaw was truly enamored with the trailer, which is an oddity in itself seeing as I’m the furthest thing from a Ryan Reynolds devotee.
No, it was the Dude himself playing a bad-ass western sheriff-like character that got me all hot and bothered about R.I.P.D., that I blocked out all negative criticism the rest of humanity was throwing at the same exact teaser I also personally laid eyes on.
Ironically enough, despite my desire to desperately see the movie on the big screen, I was only able to finally catch it on Blu-Ray in 3D just recently after a very short stay at the theaters. And by short I’m guessing somewhere in the 18 – 24 hour range. That tidbit of info probably should have been my first clue. Then again, I couldn’t decipher a clue if someone stapled it to my genitals should that tell you anything about my deductive reasoning skills.
At this point of my review, I would usually start regaling you with my creative (yet immensely shortened) summary of the film’s storyline without revealing any life-derailing spoilers. However, since R.I.P.D. is a virtual carbon copy of MIB – right down to the use of the anagram for a title – not much is left to the imagination other than the fact R.I.P.D. deals with dead souls that have escaped from purgatory rather than alien critters from around the universe.
(That’s it, that’s the trailer that got me.)
In a incredible display of creativity, the fugitive souls are affectionately referred to as “deados” by the supernatural law-enforcing unit. Please note that the words “incredible” and “creativity” were used as tools to establish sarcasm, seeing as my newborn 3-month old cousin could come up with a better nickname for the ghouls just by making random baby noises. The story itself is also not entirely unique in nature as it’s based on a comic book series of the expanded name, Rest In Peace Department. Cute, right?
Since I’ve already brought up the Men In Black comparison, I’m just going to start by saying this film is no MIB, and that’s not meant as a compliment. The whole young skeptic rookie cop partnered with the grizzly old veteran routine is such a blatant rip off of the Men in Black concept, that at some points of the movie I was wondering if I was actually watching a poor man’s installment of MIB 4. A very, very, very, VERY poor man’s version, minus the catchy rap song.
The agent duo of K and J work because the characters are both more grounded overall, specifically Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K. Will Smith provides more of the youthful wackiness to the well dressed team, but not to an extent of being over-the-top. In R.I.P.D., the roles are slightly reversed, with Ryan Reynolds’ Nick playing the straight man to Jeff Bridges wacky outlaw character. Bridges’ Roy character has the potential to be funny, and may have actually been funny, but because I could only understand every other word coming out of his mouth due to his over-exaggerated drawl, I found myself incessantly rewinding scenes until I finally understood the dialogue. By that time, the humor had passed. The most notable problem however is the lack of chemistry between the lead law partners in R.I.P.D., which also includes a lack of wit, charm, and pretty much everything else you can think to throw in there. When holding them up against the similarly paired MIB counterparts – and it’s near impossible – there simply is no contest.
It goes without saying that Smith and Jones brought heart to MIB, which no doubt played a large part in the franchise’s popularity. With that said, while I’m a critical Outlaw, I’m also a fair Outlaw, and the blame doesn’t lie solely on Reynolds and Bridges for the disappointment that is R.I.P.D., as I would venture to say there is plenty of blame to go around the entire writing staff. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard such cheesy one-liner’s that weren’t coming from a Sunday dinner spent with my family.
Regardless of the been-there-done that feeling I got from R.I.P.D., I’m willing to admit it wasn’t an outright disaster of a film. There were indeed a few humorous moments to be found – if you were looking hard enough – and the visual effects proved impressive enough to at least see the movie through until the bitter end. (For the record, bitter is putting it gently.) Being that it was also the very first feature I watched using my in-home 3D setup, I was also mesmerized with the added depth the third dimension provided during the viewing experience from the comfort of my own bed while relaxing in my Spider-Man pajamas.
As the credits rolled however, those few measly bright spots were not enough to reaffirm the giddiness that I experienced viewing that initial preview. Be that as it may, there is no simple way to make up for the shame I’m feeling, so it looks as though going into government hiding may be my only option.
Keeping that in mind, if you happen to see a 5’ 7” male wearing an X-Files cowboy hat, Ghostbusters jersey, glasses, fake mustache and wig while perusing the streets, please don’t hesitate to give a brief wave. Despite suffering from grueling embarrassment (which is not an easy feat based on my past track record), I’ve learned my lesson and plan on tempering my enthusiasm for any future films based solely on their trailers alone… unless the move happens to be R.I.P.D. 2!