Tagged: Kevin Bacon

Review – R.I.P.D. (2013)

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, Marisa Miller, James Hong

RIPDR.I.P.D. is the ‘new’ movie from Universal which you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen before. While it is, like every second aspiring blockbuster these days, an adaptation of a graphic novel, most viewers will recognise it as some combination of Men in Black and Ghostbusters with a little bit of Ghost tossed in for romantic interest.

The R.I.P.D. is the Rest in Peace Department, a team of elite but deceased law enforcers from throughout history who are charged with tracking down ‘deados,’ individuals who have passed away but have somehow managed to avoid judgement and continue to live on Earth incognito. Nick is a young Boston Policeman who is killed in the line of duty only to be called up to the RIPD while seemingly on his way to a place he didn’t want to go. At R.I.P.D. he is partnered up with Wild West lawman, Marshall Roysephus Pulsipher, who will show him the ropes. But Nick has picked an unfortunate moment to start his new job, because the deados are planning something which could change the world forever.

The odd-couple pairing for a buddy cop movie doesn’t get more odd than a 21st century Boston cop and a 19th century Wild West Marshall, but the success of buddy cop comedies invariably comes down to chemistry and Reynolds and Bridges don’t seem to have it. Rather than playing the quick-talking, wise-cracking role Will Smith took opposite the stony-faced Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, Ryan Reynolds finds himself largely playing the straight man in this movie, with much of the (attempted) comedy coming from Bridges. The Academy Award winner – I feel it is appropriate to remind you at this point that Bridges does have an Oscar – appears to be enjoying himself playing for laughs as Roy, doing a hammier version of his Rooster Cogburn from True Grit with a drawl that is equally difficult to understand.

Familiarity isn’t necessarily a problem. One of the keys to the success of a blockbuster movie is striking the right balance of the familiar and the different. Audiences want to have a reasonable idea of what they’re getting themselves into. They want to recognise things – that is why people have favourite genres and favourite actors – and then they want to be surprised by the little ways in which this one is different. R.I.P.D. falls way too far on the familiar side of the ledger though. Everything from the premise and the characters to the storyline and the outcome feels generic and rehashed. While it can rustle up a few laughs and has its share of 3D CGI spectacle, it is largely pretty boring. You are always two steps ahead of this movie. You know what is going to happen because you’ve seen it all before.

Rating – ★★

Review by Duncan McLean

Review – Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012)

Director: Billy Bob Thornton

Starring: Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, John Hurt, Ray Stevenson

Jayne Mansfield's CarIn Alabama in 1969, a wealthy, Southern family is rocked by the news that their mother, who left many years ago and re-married, has passed away and her new family is coming over from England to bury her in the town where she was born.

That’s the set up, but it doesn’t really matter because in Jayne Mansfield’s Car the story isn’t really the focus. It is a film about characters and interactions and relationships. Thematically it is a film about our relationship with life and death, about family, and about changing notions of courage and heroism, particularly in relation to war. The film’s title comes from a ghoulish sideshow attraction which visits their town, peaking the interest of patriarch Jim who has a morbid fascination with car accidents, and serves as a metaphor for the American impulse to try and glamorise death.

Director Billy Bob Thornton is better known as an actor and Jayne Mansfield’s Car is very much an actors’ movie. The film is very wordy, made up of numerous scenes of dramatic monologues and dialogues. This gives the impressive ensemble cast – including Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick and Thornton himself – plenty of chances to flex their acting muscles. Unfortunately, while there are some very solid individual performances, particularly from Duvall and Thornton, the cast never really knits together to make a believable family. Likewise, while some of these dramatic scenes are very interesting, they don’t really combine to make a whole of any great substance.

Jayne Mansfield’s Car is very slow and feels much longer than its two hour running time. The lack of a central narrative thread means that your engagement with the film really goes through peaks and troughs. Too heavy handed at times and too vague at others, it never quite hits the mark, always striving for a level of emotion that isn’t quite there.

Rating – ★★☆

Review by Duncan McLean