Making the Grades
Nick Walker’s (Ryan Reynolds) life seems perfect—a beautiful wife (Stephanie Szoztak), a little house and an orange tree in the backyard. But that all changes when his partner (Kevin Bacon) on the police force shoots him in the face.
When Roy “wakes up” from the murder, he discovers he is being reassigned to R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department). As a new rookie, he is handed over to Roy (Jeff Bridges), an Old Wild West marshal who has been protecting the streets of Boston from the undead for decades. He talks tough, he talks straight and he talks dirty. Luckily the sexually charged dialogue is mitigated somewhat by the fact that Roy, who speaks like he has a mouth full of marbles, isn’t always easy to understand.
The job of this new partnership is to maintain a balance between the living and the dead by hunting down these baddies who disguise themselves as normal looking humans—at least until their true identity is revealed. Then they morph into grotesque and gruesome monsters.
If R.I.P.D. feels familiar, it may be the haunting similarity to another undercover law enforcement agency—Men In Black. And it’s not just the combination of a cranky mentor and an inexperienced tenderfoot. These officers, like Agents Kay and Jay, use big guns and questionable tactics to keep the undead from taking over the world.
Although Roy is happy enough to round up the offenders and bring them in, he’s even happier to have an excuse to vaporize them with his special bullets. Nick on the other hand, believes in a more investigative approach. When he begins to suspect something big is brewing in Boston, he applies the police skills he learned while alive.
While the new partnership gets off to a rocky start, the two officers eventually learn to appreciate one another’s style. But not before there has been an armory of ammunition unleashed. Fortunately the carnage remains relatively bloodless since these bad guys turn into a puff of swirling black smoke when they are shot. Yet in spite of the comedic tone of this film, frequent portrayals of shooting, punching, explosions and car accident, along with some frightening images of monsters and a gruesome stabbing, push the violence to uncomfortable levels for family viewing. The script’s frequent profanities and crude sexual content also mar this sci-fi adventure where everything is not as it appears.
Rounding up all the usual elements for a buddy cop movie, R.I.P.D. plays out pretty much by the book. If you were hoping for something more for the price of your ticket, you might come away feeling a little ripped off.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about R.I.P.D..
How does this film portray the afterlife? Do you envision it as a working place or a place of eternal rest? What kind of penance do these characters have to pay? Why?
Is Roy a stereotypical Old West law officer? What issues does he have to deal with in the afterlife? What do Nick and Roy learn from each other?