'R.I.P.D' needs a defibrillator
It's not uncommon for our different sensory systems to compensate when one is damaged. For example, it is common that visually impaired individuals develop stronger hearing. While the same relationship is not intrinsically true in cinema, the same result occasionally occurs.
In "R.I.P.D.," the performance of Jeff Bridges as undead, off-kilter Sheriff Roy has to compensate for nearly every other aspect of the movie. It's almost always entertaining to turn one of the Hollywood greats loose in a goofy project. The result is usually genuine humor, because the actor involved is just there for the fun -- same as the audience. The only downside to this approach is the filmmakers sometimes lose focus of their other assets.
For example, Ryan Reynolds always has had great comedic timing and, unfortunately, is used as little more than a set-up machine for Bridges.
The rest of "R.I.P.D" isn't terrible, but it's far from great. The film works best when it's exploring the concept of a police force meant to contain Deados, or bad souls who escape judgment. Once the concept has been explored, the narrative switches gears to resolving the film's major conflict, and the fun starts to run a little dry.
It's surprising just how forgettable "R.I.P.D." really is. I laughed, I enjoyed the ride, I exhaled derisively, and yet the only thing that even remotely sticks in my memory is Jeff Bridges. Mediocrity might be forgettable, but I guess it's still preferable to being saddled with bad memories from a truly horrible experience.
Ultimately, "R.I.P.D." falls on the negative side of the scale, but I would place it at the top of the list when stay-in-and-watch-bad-movies night rolls around.
James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com. Contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.