Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds team up for a buddy-cop flick with otherworldly pursuits. After Nick (Reynolds) gets gunned-down by a dirty cop, the afterlife offers him a job in the Rest In Peace Department. Now tasked with retrieving the dead who have snuck back into the world of the living, Nick along with cowboy partner Roy, must protect the Earth and bring his killer to justice. Roy and Nick are the "they," the Men In Black. Or at least, a very close facsimile. Despite the harsh reviews and disappointing box office, R.I.P.D. could have been a hit...If it been released in the 1990s.
Here's why R.I.P.D. would have been a must-see just a couple of decades ago:
1. The Men in Black Comparison, Obviously. We'd go so far as to say this heaven's cops alternate to the franchise starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is better than MiB's underwhelming sequels. The in-jokes, the massive headquarters with huge backdrops (harkening back to '94's Coen brothers flick The Hudsucker Proxy), and all those special gadgets all feel very out of place in the 21st century, but would be simply an ironic, jagged little pill back then. Even their ride feels just like the '87 Crown Victoria Jones drove in '97.
2. Six Degrees of Ghost, Just Add Bacon. In the 1990 film Ghost, Sam (Patrick Swayze) is killed in what's meant to look like a botched mugging by his pal Carl (Tony Goldwyn, the president on Scandal) Here, Nick's scheming partner is Hayes played by Kevin Bacon who, incidentally, still looks like he did in the '90s. Nick better make sure Hayes stays away from his wife Molly, er, Julia played by Stephanie Szostak not Demi Moore.
3. Fake, Slimy, Rubbery CGI. Every ghoul caught wearing a living person suit looks goofy. The way they explode into smoke recalls the vamps in Blade (1998). These FX were pretty much the norm back then. Also the norm, Elvis impersonators, which one of the dead is, thank you, thankyouverymuch.
4. The Dude, Sorta. With a penchant for long-winded speeches, eccentric hair and way laid back shades, Roy feels like some kind of wink to Bridges' career-defining stint as The Dude in, oh hey, another '90s Coens flick: The Big Lebowski! Jeff, where's your beverage, man?!
5. Lo Pan Returns! As Nick roams the living he doesn't look like Ryan Reynolds anymore. Nick now appears as an old Chinese dude played by none other than by veteran actor James Hong. (Roy looks like a hot blonde model.) Hong starred in a number of flicks in the '80s and '90s. Our favorite was as the villain in John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. Any excuse to put Hong back on the big screen works for us.