Due to the holidays, my viewing got compressed this week. So, last night was a double-feature that not only held to a theme, but also, unexpectedly, shared an actor and a director.

Part Ghost, part Men in Black, R.I.P.D. was definitely a divided movie. It couldn’t even commit to its own rules and realities, opting for humor over plausibility time and again. That can make the 90 minutes go fast, but it isn’t going to land this high on your rewatch list nor will you have to worry about a new franchise as this deservedly bombed at the box.

I really feel for Reynolds (The Nines, Green Lantern, The Croods), who just can’t seem to pick a script, where he stars, to really launch his career. He is a talented actor, but continued big-budget flops are destroying him. Bridges (Tron: Legacy, True Grit), on the other hand, is really coming into his own. I can’t say this is his best performance, but he commits and manages to give it some layers through his cheesy accent and bad dialogue. Supporting them, Bacon (The Following, X-Men: First Class) gives a standard, if not overly memorable turn. And Parker (WeedsRED 2) does a lot with her minimal role, going from moments of apparent boredom to moments of brilliance unexpectedly. She also turned up in the second movie of my evening (RED 2), quite by chance.

Issues aside, this is a relatively entertaining comic conversion, but not a great movie. And that was the interesting theme of my evening. Both R.I.P.D. and RED 2 are adapted from comics. Both committed, in different ways, to that ideal, but never hid their origins (though RED likes to hide the fact that it is an acronym more). 

In addition, though I didn’t plan it, director Schwentke had also directed the original RED. He brought to R.I.P.D. the same issues the first RED had, namely that the story was rather weak even as moments were often fun. He wasn’t helped by his writers Hay and Manfredi who were the team on such script gems as Clash of the Titans, Aeon Flux, and The Tuxedo.

R.I.P.D. went for overly broad action and situations, veering between between romance and absurdity, which works great in a comic, but that stretches credulity in live action. The plot, as well, wasn’t well considered, having the bad guys jump through some odd hoops rather than have them do something more clever and interesting to deliver their plot. All the choices ended up for the sake of the scenes they wanted to have rather than scenes that would have made a better story. That approach also cheapened the story, aiming it at a younger audience, but without adjusting the rest of the plot and action to be appropriate for that age range. Well, that was my feeling on the plot anyway. 

This is a reasonable distraction if you’ve nothing else to do or want some silliness in your evening, but not much beyond that.

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