Rip-offs are a funny thing...
Some can pass off as homages, some have to be rip-offs in order to survive in a world of big, crushing blockbusters, others are just lazy.
R.I.P.D. is, indeed, one of the lazy ones.
We get it, we got it from the trailers: it's Men In Black. The M.I.B.-style initials, the cliched buddy cop movie scenario with one young guy being paired up with an older guy with a Southern drawl as they shoot their fancy, shiny toy guns at alien-looking things... we're not idiots. We get it. It's no wonder that by the time this film came out people were already tired of it: they knew exactly what it would be! R.I.P.D., I must admit, did not offer any surprises and that's really what I wanted from it. I wanted the trailers to scream Men In Black but for the film itself to bring enough new, fun things to the table that it would be eventually elevated, through a cult following, to something a little bit different, a decent action comedy with a slightly more unique personality. I call the film lazy because it didn't need to be an M.I.B. clone, it really didn't. Sure the plots bear some resemblance but had they put a little effort into building an interesting new style for it, we could have had something. Maybe set it in the 80's and have fun with the whole cop movie genre or make it less jokey, giving it a meaner, darker, gorier, Grindhouse-ier feel (like a bloodier Constantine, maybe?). There were so many other things they could have done to make this look interesting to audiences. Why settle on Men In Black?!
The film has bigger problems than that, unfortunately.
For one thing it's not funny. It has its fun moments and its amusing characters but, as a whole, it's just not very funny. Or funny enough to confirm that the film should have indeed been as much of a Tex Avery-style comedy as it is. The jokes the film thinks are hilarious fall completely flat and the jokes with actual comedy potential are either misunderstood or not pushed far enough. The weak script is definitely to blame for that. Jeff Bridges delivers a good performance and looks like he's having the time of his life so, of course, he's going to get an occasional chuckle out of you. The man is basically the only one who tries in this film and that should definitely be applauded. Ryan Reynolds, on the other hand, is frankly miscast and gives just about the dullest performance a comedy of that type could have possibly asked for. Not only is his character not likeable to begin with but he barely reacts when all sorts of crazy shit is going on around him and whenever he tries to joke around, his timing's just off. The ever charming Mary-Louise Parker pops up in an easy role but delivers her lines with gusto while Kevin Bacon sleep-walks through a film that itself seems surprised to even have him in it! The plot is nonsense wrapped in a box of what-the-f***s and tied up neatly with a bow of HUH?!. The film rushes through the silliest things and barely lets those ludicrous plot-points sink in before piling on the cartoon "rules" of this world we never, not for one second, buy into. The film is based on a comic-book yet it feels like it's making shit up as it goes along.
I could go on but suffice it to say that R.I.P.D. doesn't really try and *shock* doesn't really succeed. I've seen far worse movies and, like I said, the film has moments silly enough that they'll make you smile but overall this is far too derivative, far too messy and just not funny enough to make it a worthwhile must-see at the cinema. Even if Jeff Bridges is a (read: the) dude.