The Film Formula: RIPD

The Film Formula: RIPD

We discover the elements behind the Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges-starring ghost-buster

The Film Formula is our series of articles aimed at boiling down big releases to their most basic elements. This time round, it’s RIPD

We kinda gave ourselves away in the sub-headline there, didn't we? Yup, RIPD – in which the deceased Nick (Ryan Reynolds) and Roy (Jeff Bridges) are tasked with taking down ghostly bad guys on behalf of the Rest In Peace Department – bears a strong thematic resemblance to Ghostbusters, in which Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson take down ghosts as part of a private contractor business. The comedy-plus-action-with-a-splash-of-light-horror tone of Ghostbusters is also replicated in RIPD, with the CG-augmented ghoulies actually seeming quite fearsome – something they share in common with...

... the CG-augmented aliens in Men in Black. If anything, RIPD is just a big, fat MiB retread, with a young rookie (Reynolds/Will Smith) drafted into an acronym-friendly organisation he didn't know existed (RIPD/MiB) to take on enemies of whom he was equally unaware (ghosts/aliens) with the help of a surly older partner (Bridges/Tommy Lee Jones). It doesn't hurt that Bridges seems to be doing his best impersonation of Rip Torn (who also appeared in Men in Black); that there is some ridiculous firepower on display; that the pair's latest case threatens life on Earth as we know it; or that the RIPD's headquarters have seemingly been put together by the same folk who did Men in Black...

... which would be appear to be the same folk who created the afterlife bureaucracy of A Life Less Ordinary – another film featuring a couple of undead law enforcers sent to Earth to keep humans in check. Even Mary-Louise Parker's weird-but-professional Procter in RIPD has shades of Holly Hunter's psychotic-but-professional O'Reilly in A Life Less Ordinary.

Bridges' Roy, on the other hand, is a rootin' tootin' remix of Rooster Cogburn, the role he so memorably filled in the Coen brothers' rework of True Grit. Sure, Roy is a dash more slapstick than Rooster, but they're both ornery old codgers with a taste for giving youngsters a hard time.

Finally, it's worth noting that when Roy and Nick are doing their work on Earth, they look and sound entirely different – a sight gag that already worked well for Chris Rock in his own resurrection comedy Down to Earth. In that, Rock was reincarnated as a rich old white guy; in RIPD, Nick and Roy are brought back as an elderly Asian man and a striking blonde respectively.

A Life Less Ordinary + True Grit / (Ghostbusters x Men in Black) / Down to Earth = RIPD

R.I.P.D. - Trailer


  • 1 star
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 36min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Robert Schwentke
  • Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker
  • UK release: 20 September 2013

Nick (Reynolds) is a cop killed by his corrupt partner (Bacon). The Rest In Peace Department then returns him to Earth with new partner Roy (Bridges), to police our world against returning ghosts. Despite a strong cast and a fat budget it's lifeless on many, many levels; no wonder it's already flopped in the States.