Posts tagged Tommy Lee Jones
Regrettably, Robert Schwentke’s action comedy “RIPD” is not about the Rhode Island Police Department. That concept would have been much more engaging than the actual basis for this mediocre movie written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.
So what do the film’s titular initials stand for? They’re the name of a covert law enforcement unit called the “Rest In Peace Department,” comprised of cops who die in the line of duty. Disguised as harmless civilians, these officers walk the Earth again for a unique purpose: to capture rogue spirits and bring them to the other side.
The RIPD’s newest recruit is Nick (Ryan Reynolds) a cop gunned down during a drug bust. Since Nick has done some things he’s not proud of, he’s offered the position to make spiritual amends. Of course, this greenhorn is partnered with a grumpy veteran lawman from the 1800s named Roy (Jeff Bridges). Roy is a loner with zero interest in training a partner, which is just fine, because Nick thinks that he’s too good for Roy’s help anyway. After a series of humorous scuffles however, they realize that they’ll need to cooperate to stop a villain (Kevin Bacon) from bringing about the end of days.
Instead of being creative with an amusing premise, the filmmakers for “RIPD” disappoint by lazily ripping off “Men in Black” and “Ghostbusters.” The secret supernatural crime fighting organization piece as well as the mismatched partners is totally “MiB.” Roy is even Southern and hard to understand just like Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Plus, their misadventures in capturing ghosts and the apocalyptic showdown at the end borrow heavily from “Ghostbusters.” That said, it’s too bad that the humor in “RIPD” doesn’t come close to the hilarity of either picture.
Unfortunately this movie’s few attempts to innovate aren’t much better. Schwentke tries to place his camera at weird angles and twist it upside down during a couple chases, which only distracts you from the action. The slow-mo sequences look okay in 3D, but the only time the extra dimension feels truly worthwhile is when you wish it wouldn’t. Characters spitting chunks of food in your face isn’t particularly enjoyable or appetizing.
At least Jeff Bridges rewards viewers by playing gruff, grizzled cowboys like Roy with great gusto. The enthusiasm with which he portrays his character in “RIPD” is eerily similar to his jovial embodiment of the trigger-happy lawman Rooster Cogburn in 2010’s “True Grit.” Roy is entertaining because he’s more perverse than you’d expect, yet strangely sensitive. As a character he can be annoying though, due to how difficult he is to comprehend. His sometimes unintelligible voice sounds like Foghorn Leghorn with a frog in his throat.
Thankfully, Bridges has an odd chemistry with Reynolds that’s comedically decent. Although their quips won’t knock your socks off, they’ll still get you chuckling. At points however, “RIPD” seems confused about how far it should go with humor, choosing to stay on a safe PG-13 path in scenes where R-rated lines would be better. This hesitance made more sense after I learned from an actor who worked on the film, that it wasn’t supposed to be funny originally; the schtick was added during reshoots.
If there’s one good thing about this flick though, it’s that it’s short, well-paced and over quickly. Far from the best movie of the year, yet certainly not the worst. See it only if you have no other options at the theater.
My Grade: C-….as in Coming Close to Complete Crap.
I don’t share the same enthusiasm as my colleagues for Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Editing. However I definitely agree with choices for Best Actor (Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln”), Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”), and Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins, “Skyfall”).
My personal favorite ensemble cast was the members of Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” and my favorite films that made our group’s 10 Best Films of the Year are starred below. More may be added to my list as I catch up on some of the films below. Since I work full-time on top of my writing, it can be harder to see everything as quickly as my colleagues.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
OSLO, AUGUST 31ST
If you think “Men in Black III” should have a new rap song by Will Smith or more scenes with Frank the Pug, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The closest you get to either, is a tune by Pitbull during the end credits and a couple of minor nods to the famous talking canine. But you have to look on the bright side: Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Men in Black III” is a campy sci-fi adventure complete with time travel, gimmicky 3D, inane dialogue, and an outlandish villain.
Just like the other movies in the series, “MIB III” has our heroes fighting a renegade alien with plans of world domination. A goggle-eyed baddie named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes captivity to exact revenge upon the man who put him away: Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Boris jumps back in time to kill Agent K, which alters the course of history and allows his species to invade Earth.
Since Agent J (Will Smith) is the only one with memory of the previous timeline, he travels back to the 1960s so he can foil Boris and save his partner. On his journey, Agent J bumps into the younger Agent K (Josh Brolin), who he joins forces with to defend the planet. Before they can make any progress though, they must learn to work together all over again.
While most situations in “MIB III” are business as usual for this franchise, there are a couple of humorous and inventive sequences which stand out. The prison escape involving Boris is hilarious its amusing twist on the “special” birthday cake trick. Likewise, time travel in the movie, also known as time jumping, quite literally requires plunging from tall structures. As he uses the time machine, Agent J falls through some entertaining time periods, passing pterodactyls and upset investors after the stock market crash of 1929.
Like most 3D films, the extra dimension in “MIB III” functions more as a trick than a means to enhance the storytelling. Sonnenfeld foolishly uses it to throw things in the audience’s face like a lame amusement park ride.
The stupidity of this movie extends beyond 3D, into the dialogue between its characters. Screenwriter Etan Cohen gives Will Smith very little to work with, so don’t expect many laughs from him. Cohen’s lowest point comes when Boris meets himself in the past, and his younger self actually asks “Who are you?” We’re not talking about an old Biff and young Biff scenario from “Back to the Future II” here. These two look enough alike that he should be able to recognize himself immediately.
Josh Brolin is fantastic as a young Tommy Lee Jones, impeccably mimicking the actor’s mannerisms. Since Brolin’s Agent K hasn’t become jaded yet, he’s a more sentimental fellow who can talk openly about his thoughts and feelings. Jemaine Clement’s Boris the Animal is also enjoyable because his snarling character is a vile villain. Occasionally Clement goes a bit over-the-top into cheese territory though, which can be annoying. Perhaps the most surprising performance comes from Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrays a quirky alien with the ability to see the future. Stuhlbarg’s childlike sense of wonder and tendency to break the fourth wall are especially fun.
“Men in Black III” possesses much of the same camp which made the first film so much fun to watch. Where it differs, is that takes an obnoxious sappy direction at the end by showing a direct connection between Agent K and Agent J’s destinies. At least this flick is more memorable than 2002’s “Men in Black II.”
My Grade: C+