Sinister Cinema: “A Freakin’ Cave, Hoss!”

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In the photo above you have, left to right, Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, as avatared by the great James Hong, veteran of literally hundreds of movie and TV appearances, and supermodel Marisa Miller in her first film.

Yep. I said I was going to R.I.P.D. and I went.

Sure, I quickly became aware of all the reviews saying it was outright terrible, the stories about how it was going to be a bigger summer flop than The Lone Ranger. One after another. . . .

What was that, anyway? Some Giant Not-So-Secret Media/Cultural Conspiracy to Do a Smackdown on Ryan Reynolds? What could all these people possibly have against him?

RR must have done something awful heinous, maybe in a Past Life. . . .

A couple of days before I caught it, I actually heard a film critic in a radio interview saying R.I.P.D. was the worst movie ever made — or at least as bad as Gigli, generally accepted as the worst movie ever made (at least in recent years — you don’t want to start hauling Ed Wood into the discussion, that’s like comparing rotten apples with rotten tomatoes).

Really? As bad as Gigli?

The director’s previous movie was RED, with Willis, Malkovich, Mirren — that was pretty good. It’s got Jeff Bridges in it, Oscar winner, multiple Oscar nominee — jeez, has The Dude suddenly lost it and forgotten how to act?

Now I’m almost willing to believe that Gigli might not be that bad. . . .

In short, I didn’t buy in to the reviews and made sure I caught it on the big screen. As I recall, the same thing happened with Big Trouble in Little China — bad reviews, didn’t do great box office, but a little classic with one terrific scene or line reading after another. Same deal with John Carpenter’s The Thing — very bad reviews, no box office, one of the best movies of its type ever filmed.

I guess the fact that R.I.P.D. is a mashup of Ghostbusters and Men in Black bothered the critics, even though some of the negative reviews did have to concede that the “few good moments” in the movie came from Jeff Bridges.

Yeah, pretty much every line out of his mouth was funny — like Kurt Russell doing his John Wayne takeoff in Big Trouble (in Little China, not Big Trouble, another excellent little movie with Dennis Farina, Patrick Warburton, et al). Hard to believe some people can go nuts over the delivery/lines in The Big Lebowski and not appreciate the same level of skill at play here. But so it goes. Mary-Louise Parker also had that incandescent glow in her performance, every time the avatars came onscreen amused me — and Ryan Reynolds was perfectly fine playing the role that was written.

No, R.I.P.D. isn’t equal to Ghostbusters (hard to catch, with one of the greatest theme songs of all time) or Men in Black — but it’s easily in the ballpark with Ghostbusters 2 and MIBII. And people will be watching it for years as one of the most fun Jeff Bridges movies.

cowboy cop

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