Both of these men are millionaires in real life.
R.I.P.D. (Robert Schwentke). 96 minutes. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: N
The best thing about R.I.P.D. is that it's only 96 minutes long, a blip by contemporary bloated blockbuster standards. So, if trapped in a cineplex with the doors barred from the outside, you could pretty easily fritter away its running time by replaying four whole classic Roseanne episodes in your head. And still have about eight whole minutes left over to imagine some products you might like to purchase in the mall after.
Based on a vaguely noteworthy Dark Horse Comics series, R.I.P.D. crossbreeds Ghostbusters and Men In Black, with Jeff Bridges (doing his marble-mouthed Rooster Cogburn from True Grit) and Ryan Reynolds (pulling the wide-eyed, smart aleck face he floated through Green Lantern) playing a grizzled veteran and wet-behind-the-ears rookie, respectively, employed by the Rest In Peace Department, an afterlife law enforcement agency. Can they reconcile their canned differences in character and comportment long enough to thwart an undead baddie (Kevin Bacon) from bringing about an apocalypse? Of course they can. It's a movie, right?
R.I.P.D.'s characters are so thinly sketched that they're better viewed as character types. And so Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi's napkin scratchings of a script functions more as a Dummies guide to writing a screenplay for this kind of movie (supernatural buddy comedy) than anything else. The wispy dramatic heft it is shouldered by Reynolds, who struggles to make peace with his demise, attempting to reconnect with the wife he left on earth (Stephanie Szostak). His efforts are stymied by "the universe" (a concept invoked with no particular significance in the film), which makes him look like a small Chinese man (played by James Hong) whenever he approaches her. This blows the doors wide open for a lot of gross jokes about what an awful curse it would be to a) elderly and b) Chinese, playing to a presumed audience who would find the phrase "old Chinese man" funny in itself.
The only halfway-decent idea R.I.P.D. puts is that bonds of Catholic duty and service transfer to the afterlife, where guilt is a debt to be worked off, something that ties in nicely with its Boston backdrop. But even this idea feels tripped over as R.I.P.D. rushes from one flashy bad guy-chase to the next. Hack Robert Schwentke's direction is totally auto-piloted. His mish-mash visual schema is dominated by impossible CGI zooms and whiplash pans, like he's playing with a souped-up version of that old Microsoft Kids' 3D Movie Maker program. R.I.P.D. puts across no apparent concern for character, craft or anything else beyond its bottom line scheme to recoup its $130 million(!) budget by stooping to a lowest common denominator demographic that must be absolutely desperate to blow $13 this weekend.