I’m really a bit frustrated with my feelings on R.I.P.D. This is a film built upon awkward quirkiness. Jeff Bridges’ Roy is just about the weirdest character that Jeff Bridges has ever played. And I know what I’m talking about – cuz I love weird Jeff Bridges. That said… because of the hot avatar he has, it sometimes requires him to say… well the damnedest things. At one level, I could recommend the film entirely upon the strength of Jeff Bridges weirdness, which would be enough for some of you. Add to that Mary-Louise Parker’s utterly weird Proctor – and Ryan Reynolds’ Rook Nick. Well, the film feels like a stoner’s film, which again – should work for me – but the film just seemed to be out of tune. Flat at times and sharply grating at others. The action is all very Termite Terrace inspired, which is visually fun, but again pointless.
I never got bored in the film, but the flick is filled with deflated humor that just sort of lays there, but they’re throwing so much of it at you that it’s sort of like, “groan groan giggle groan laugh.” You know what it is… This film should have been directed by John Carpenter. You know the filmmakers like him, they even cast James Hong as Ryan Reynolds’ Avatar in the real world – and his presence just reminded me… Man, to see Carpenter join back up with Jeff Bridges and James Hong in a big after life action adventure story – my heart goes pitter patter.
However, John Carpenter didn’t direct R.I.P.D. – so that exquiste weirdness of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA… it just doesn’t work here. Why exactly?
Well, I think #1 – they do a terrible job with the threat. It seems that the “DEADERS” – dead folks that refuse to move on and try to stay in the world of the living… well… I just didn’t fully grasp them. They’re played for laughs and visual gags, but never with a real sense of menace for me. When the big shit goes down in the final act, it’s just a whole bunch of sound and fury. It’s an incredible 3D sequence – actually the whole film is quite a fun 3D experience – lots of depth and they’re not afraid to float stuff out over the audience. But in the MEN IN BLACK series, they did give the various aliens some personalities, they just weren’t farting, odd noise generators.
Films like this are built on the awesome of their villains. Here, I think it comes up way short. That’s because the film tells you who the villain is before Ryan’s Nick has even become a Rook. Then – rather than build that confrontation, the film decides to go on a follow the gold nuggets chase, which gives us plenty of time to see how utterly bizarre Bridges and Reynolds are as a team – and I really can emphasize this enough – they’re so fucking weird. The film wallows in weird. Bathes in weird. It’s really fucking weird.
There’s a moment at the end of this film between Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker – that comes so out of nowhere – and is so wtf – that you don’t laugh, you just make that odd face. But after the “ankle fetish” stuff – I guess I shouldn’t have been as perplexed by this as I was, but there I was.
The film used weird to substitute for having the characters actually relate, to build any depth at all for the villains. That said, there’s a whole lot of fun visuals & performances – it just doesn’t congeal into something better than it’s parts. At this point, I’d say see PACIFIC RIM again. It is actually funnier than this film, while also telling a spectacular visual story that feels like nothing you’ve ever seen. This? This feels like MEN IN BLACK – with even weirder writers. The ankle thing is just the oddest fetish sold on camera since Tarantino’s foot fetish in FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. So weird. Odd. If you want to just celebrate weirdness for weirdness sake – by all means, it’s worth a matinee. But you’d still enjoy PACIFIC RIM a helluva lot more!
Such an aggravating film – you could tell it wanted to be better than it was. Its heart was there, it just didn’t seem to have the story foundation and fully balanced material that would have pulled the thing off brilliantly. Something feels out of whack with this one.