by Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider

EXPECTATIONS: I say, has anyone noticed that this film seems to resemble the movie Men In Black? Why, I do believe the two are similar in premise! Yes, it would appear that both of them feature an older man teaching a younger man how to hunt otherworldly beings! Well, this must be a rip-off! Bad show, fellows, bad show indeed. Though I must say, I feel like quite the Clever Trevor for this observation. I can't wait to tell the internet!

REALITY: In all honesty, I couldn't care less if this film were to take its cues from Men in Black. Men in Black is a good movie, it's a lot of fun, and the other two entries in its franchise range from bad to oddly xenophobic. So if I could pretend R.I.P.D. is a proper MiB sequel, that would make the film jump from "horribly mediocre" to "almost passable." Unfortunately, the Internet-movie-person rules say I can't.

I don't see the Men in Black comparisons at all...

R.I.P.D. revolves around Boston Police officer Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), who is murdered during a drug bust by his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) when he threatens to come clean after the two of them stole confiscated gold they found during another bust. Instead of being passed on to heaven or hell, Walker is offered a chance to strengthen his case for Judgment Day by serving a 100-year term with the Rest In Peace Department, an organization dedicated to hunting down "Dead-os," souls that refuse to leave earth, and returning them to face judgment. He is partnered with wild west lawman Roy (Jeff Bridges), who I'm going to refer to as Rooster Cogburn for the remainder of this review. Nick and Rooster stumble into a plot to build a device that will reverse the tunnel to the underworld, which involves, in a move that the creators probably thought was clever and not hackneyed at all, the very same gold that Nick was killed over.

I'm beginning to seriously wonder if Jeff Bridges is actually a good actor outside of Coen Brothers films. It seems like he's coasted for the past fifteen years playing some permutation of The Dude or Rooster, with two exceptions: Crazy Heart, in which he plays The Public Perception of Jeff Bridges; and Iron Man in which he plays The Least Interesting Part of Iron Man. Here, he plays Rooster if Rooster had ADHD.

Normally I'm all for Jeff Bridges chewing scenery, but here he just... won't.... stop. Rooster Roy's folksiness is amusing in spurts, but there is a solid 20 minutes in the second act where he's talking the entire time. This would only work if the film offered some excuse or explanation for the chatter, or if it gave me some reason to empathize with this character. Instead, I just really need him to shut up.

This is the problem with the film in general: It's actually too fast-paced. Nick is dead and just tossed into this world and told to accept it, and then we're off to cancel the apocalypse before we have any reason to care about any of these characters. Remember how Men in Black had those great scenes right before Will Smith puts on the suit, and Tommy Lee Jones gives us an overview of the agency, and there's that moment where Will Smith sits on the park bench for hours considering his options? Here, Nick is recruited and on his first mission before I was done trying to figure out how this movie expected me to believe Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Bacon were the same age. There are a few attempts to make Nick sympathetic, showing him missing his wife, but Rooster Cogburn actually shuts down every one with a pithy comment and a sarcastic "boo-hoo."

The truth is, folks, this is the worst of all possible things: An alright movie. It's not very good, but it has its moments. There are a number of interesting shots, though it would be nice if these shots did something other that make me say "Huh, that's an interesting shot." There's no real reason for me to condemn this film, but "R.I.P.D. is not offensively terrible" is hardly a quote worthy of a DVD cover. If people still watched movies that came on TBS on Sunday afternoons, this movie would be perfect for that. As is, it is basically a waste of time and (very little) effort from anyone involved.

Entertainment Value4/10
Rooster Cogburnity2/10
Giving Me Material to Write About0/10

MINORITY REPORT: Oh, dear, you're sorely mistaken. This isn't a sequel to Men in Black. It's that sequel to The Frighteners we've all been waiting for! - Sean "Keanu Grieves" Hanson

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