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Soul Too Stinky
Let me begin this by saying I know next to nothing about Peter M. Lenkov’s Rest In Peace Department comics. Maybe they’re funny. Maybe they’re interesting. Maybe there’s some heart and geniunely good storytelling within those panels. I couldn’t say. What I can say is, clearly, Hollywood is so desperate to cash in on the death throes of the comic book movie fad that they greenlit this piece of garbage without even looking at the script.
Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is a stone cold, business first detective in Boston’s Police force. He takes his job seriously, and he’s good at it. After him and his partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) stumble across a pirate’s bounty of gold during a drug bust. Deciding to keep the gold for themselves, they tell none of their fellow officers, and more importantly, Nick doesn’t tell his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak).
Soon, Nick finds himself having sceond thoughts about keeping the gold and decides to turn it in. Before he can however, he’s called in to a massive bust on a violent Meth dealer’s operation. A giant and bloody gun battle ensues and just as Nick thinks he’s finally safe, Bobby fills his face full of lead. As Nick’s soul floats to Heaven, something suddenly happens and he finds himself being interviewed by Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker). She tells him that because of his shady dealings on Earth that he might not have the best chance of making it past the pearly gates.
As an alternative she suggests he join the Rest In Peace Department for a 100 year tour to clear his name and his soul. He agrees and is introduced to his partner, a long dead lawman from the 1800’s, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). Their job is to round up “Deados”, or evil souls who have escaped judgement and hide among the living. Armed with spicy Indian food and anti-soul bullets the pair begin to uncover a vast conspiracy to take the land of the living away from the living.
There’s a scene in Edgar Wright’s classic Hot Fuzz, where the two officers are forced to go to a local production of Romeo and Juliet. After the show they grace the local pub for a few pints and Nicholas comments that, “the only convincing part was when they kissed”. That sentiment perfectly sums up this film. When Ryan Reynolds and Stephanie Szostak are making out in their skivvies in the film’s opening moments you actually believe it. It looks like they are genuinely in love, and when the cameras stopped rolling they probably made like rabbits in Reynold’s trailer. That’s where the fun and believability of this movie ends and the awkwardness begins.
From the first CGI drenched scenes you can tell this movie isn’t going to be a looker, and boy howdy it doesn’t get any better. This is some of the most underwhelming and moment ruining CGI I’ve ever seen. The “Deados” are almost exclusively computer generated, so when the big climax rolls around you’re forced to stare at a bunch of animated eye sores as they jiggle around the screen all too fluidly. Even worse is their human counterparts who somehow manage to be more lifeless that a grouping of pixels. Saddest of all the performances is Mary-Louise Parker’s, who simply looks uncomfortable in every scene. Her sarcastic wit was one of the greatest charms found in her eight season run on Showtime’s Weeds. Here though she’s just clearly pissed off at being featured in such a trashy, stupid film, and one moment at the film’s outset you can literally see her cringe.
Jeff Bridges is really the only ray of light in this sealed casket, as he doesn’t seem to give a flying rat’s ass about anything, and runs wild with the role like a streaker through the college quad. He’s the only actor good enough to elicit any kind of laughter out of such a dead script. Every joke is so ill timed, or so blatantly desperate to generate a laugh, this if you smile it’s probably because you’re so dumbfounded by the stupidity of the moment you can’t help but allow your face muscles to contort in such a fashion as to alleviate the supreme lameness of it all.
Another sin in this movie’s repertoire is the insanely predictable and flat plot. Every single move this film makes can be seen coming a mile away. Even the subplot about Nick lamenting the loss of his wife is so weak and forgettable that it’s hard to feel anything for any of the characters.
If you really want to watch a buddy cop action comedy that will have you roaring with laughter, that has heart, and is brilliantly written, watch Hot Fuzz. If you want to waste an hour of your life, go see R.I.P.D.