“RIPD”: “Men in Black” meets “Ghostbusters” meets lots of other things

RIPD (Rest in Peace Department) is where good cops go when they die. Their job? To track down escaped demons from Hell and return them or terminate them altogether. Ryan Reynolds plays Nick with one-note aplomb. His partner, Hayes (played by Kevin Bacon with similar gutsto), kills him over parts of a golden talisman they recover from bad guys. In the afterlife, Nick is drafted into the RIPD without ceremony and partnered with old west lawman Roy (Jeff Bridges) for training. On the first day out they happen upon the same case Nick was working when he was killed. They follow the trail to recover the rest of the talisman, failing to catch the demon when he is revealed. When the demon goes on a rampage in the city and Nick and Hayes are threatened with termination (which means meeting their final death), they take matters into their own hands.

I firmly believe there is nothing new under the sun; everybody works to put new spins on the same old archetypes. ABC’s Once Upon A Time, which puts a new spin on old fairy tales–especially on old Disney fairy tale properties–is case in point. The fun comes not in watching something new, but in watching a new spin on what must be an ages old concept. Many writers, I’m sure, set out to write something one of a kind and alternately cringe and scream when they see their original ideas manifested elsewhere (this was a regular occurrence while watching Fringe and working on Phase Shift). Other writers take someone else’s idea as a start and go from there (as is the case with every vampire property I’ve ever seen or read and The Revenant or The Time Traveler’s Wife and my untitled Alice piece).  RIPD has the typical old-timer-trains-newbie framework present in Men in Black or Lethal Weapon series. Unlike those movies, the old-timer is the strange-duck, while the newbie plays straight man.   Like Men in Black, the beings the cops hunt can hide in plain sight, appearing somewhat quirky, but for the most part normal. As is the case with Ghostbusters and television’s Reaper, RIPD detectives have a device to quickly dispatch the spirit back to the underworld before they wreak havoc on the living. Similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is a Hellmouth that is in danger of opening if the detectives don’t thwart the bad guys in time. Similar to Ghost, Nick’s love for his wife transcends death. Also similar to Ghost, his best friend/partner is the bad guy and his wife is ultimately put into jeopardy. Nick and his wife also have a brief reunion scene near the end, as do Sam and Molly at the end of Ghost.

RIPD is lots of fun. In addition to it being a police procedural, it is a love story, and involves superheroes of a sort. There is a lot of comic book violence as well as interesting villains. Jeff Bridges steals the scene in the role of talkative, cynical Roy, and much of the comedy comes from his deadpan responses and odd behaviour (such as driving the car facing sideways with his right leg up on the seat, or the way he is more concerned that he loses his hat than that he loses the demon). Though it borders on the cliché, RIPD is a light-hearted romp worth a look-see.

Did you see RIPD? Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought about it.