Jeff Bridges has made many notable and memorable movies over his long and illustrious career. A movie that perhaps isn’t as memorable has resurfaced and is now climbing Netflix’s USA most-watched list, sitting high on the sixth spot.
R.I.P.D. is a science fiction buddy cop comedy starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is Nick White, a Boston detective. While on duty fighting drug dealers, he and his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) discover several shards of gold that they decide to take for their own. Nick wants a better life for himself and his wife and feels this is how to get it.
When he gets home, Nick buries his gold under a tree in his yard. His wife Julia thinks the tree is a gift from him, prompting her to tell Nick she has everything she ever needs. Feeling guilty, Nick tells Bobby that he is going to turn in the gold as evidence. As the two team up to go on a raid, Bobby then tells Nick he can’t let Nick turn in the gold, then shoots him.
For Nick, time stops around him. He is drawn into a vortex in the sky and just as he is about to reach its zenith, he is suddenly pulled into a room. Nick is in the afterlife where he is told he faces eternal damnation for stealing the gold. For his penance, Nick is recruited into the RIPD, the Rest In Peace Department. Their job, to search out and find souls who refuse to move on to the afterlife. These souls that refuse to move on turn into monsters disguised as humans. They are “Deados” and they begin to rot, which rots everything around them, threatening the delicate balance between life and death.
Nick is given a partner in his afterlife duties. Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) is a former Union soldier in the American Civil War and U.S. Marshall. As they head to watch Nick’s funeral, Roy explains to him for them to do their jobs, they are given new identities to be able to interact with the living. Nick is now an elderly Chinese man while Roy appears as a beautiful blonde woman.
Nick needs to find out exactly why he was killed. He and Roy interrogate a Deado, finding out that he is in possession of the same gold Nick and Bobby had stolen. Nick then finds out that Bobby has more to do with this than he realized.
The gold that has been stolen is actually part of an ancient weapon called the Staff of Jericho and these shards are necessary for the Staff to work. The weapon, when complete, has the power to reverse the flow of souls from Earth into the afterlife. Nick and Roy then discover that Bobby is actually a powerful Deado and wants the power of the staff so he can remain on Earth for eternity.
R.I.P.D. tries. It’s a cross between Men in Black and Ghostbusters that didn’t quite work. Jeff Bridges gives it his all as Roy, the gunslinging, yee-hawing dead U.S. Marshal, but even his likability doesn’t get the job done. R.I.P.D. is based on the Peter M. Lenkov comic of the same name. Robert Schwentke directed the film from a script written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.
Unfortunately for all involved, the material did not translate well from comic book to movie. Schwentke tried to bring a Men in Black-type of humor into the relationship between Nick and Roy but it fell flat. Critics especially disliked the film with Roger Moore of Movie Nation saying R.I.P.D. is “the worst comic book adaptation since Jonah Hex.” The New York Post’s Kyle Smith commented that, “For a movie that so strenuously rips off Ghostbusters and Men in Black, R.I.P.D. manages to come up with fresh new ways of being absolutely terrible.”
The teaming of Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds wasn’t enough to bring fans to the theater. The movie was made for an estimated budget of between $130-154 million, bringing home barely over $78 million.
Jeff Bridges’ Roy Pulsipher represents just one more memorable character Bridges has created. Of course, most know Bridges as The Dude from The Big Lebowski, but Bridges has many more on his resume. Duane Johnson in The Last Picture Show. Jack Prescott in the King Kong remake. Kevin Flynn in Tron. Starman in Starman. Jack Baker in The Fabulous Baker Boys. The list goes on and on.
It was last October when Jeff Bridges stunned fans by announcing his battle with lymphoma. Since then, Bridges has fought the fight. He shaved his head while undergoing treatment which he said earlier this year is going well. He said the new protocol he was being given has made a big difference in the size of the tumor. On his website, he told fans that “the thing has drastically shrunk.” That is definitely good news.
As for R.I.P.D., who listens to critics? New fans have found the movie, making it one of the more popular films on super streamer Netflix. So, if you’re in the mood to see Jeff Bridges whoop it up, go check out R.I.P.D.