‘R.I.P.D.’ Producer Talks ‘Men in Black’ Influence & Buddy Cop Ghosts

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Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in RIPD R.I.P.D. Producer Talks Men in Black Influence & Buddy Cop Ghosts

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov’s comic book miniseries R.I.P.D. (or Rest In Peace Department) served a sentence in development limbo before finally getting made by director Robert Schwentke (RED). After all, the film is about a cop who gets killed whilst on duty and is recruited by the R.I.P.D. – a supernatural law enforcement agency tasked with rounding up “bad souls” who have escaped custody.

In anticipation of the film’s summer release, producer Neal Moritz – who also worked on last year’s Total Recall remake – talked about about the challenges of getting the film made, the challenge of creating a story that everyone would want to see, and how it was cast.

When asked about similarities to other classic supernatural or sci-fi comedies – courtesy of Collider - Moritz named a few of R.I.P.D.‘s direct influences:

“Yeah, I think that was the hardest part of the movie was, ‘what is the exact tone of this movie?’  We’ve talked a lot about movies like ‘Lethal Weapon’ meets ‘Men In Black’ or a little bit of ‘Beetlejuice’ thrown in there, a little bit of ‘Ghostbusters’ …

“There was a balance of humor, comedy, action, that we really had to finely distill – every time we added a little bit more of something or had to take a little bit back.  We didn’t want the movie to be broad, we wanted it to feel real but it’s got a supernatural concept, so it was just trying to mix all that and dial that together.”

R.I.P.D. marks the first time that Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds have teamed up onscreen. In many cases, buddy cop comedies succeed or fail based on the chemistry of the two lead actors, and there wasn’t much in the trailer to suggest a significant spark between the two (unless you count the scene where Bridges mounts Reynolds and rides him to the ground).

Panel from RIPD issue 4 R.I.P.D. Producer Talks Men in Black Influence & Buddy Cop Ghosts

Moritz, however, seems confident in the casting choices. Here’s what he said:

“We had a number of combinations of cast that wanted to do the movie together, but it just never came together right.  When ultimately it started to get steam again, we got Jeff Bridges to play that role. To me, out of all the combinations that potentially almost did this movie, there could not have been a better combination than Jeff and Ryan. Jeff just embodies that character so much, it’s amazing.

“Really the core of the movie is the relationship between Jeff and Ryan. For me, buddy cop comedies are really almost my favorite genre and this is really aimed at that. How do we make the relationship of the buddy cop movie fresh? And I think the two of those guys are terrific in it and their relationship just sparkle.”

For fans of the original comic books and its unique characters, what Moritz had to say with regards to fidelity to the source material is probably going to be pretty disappointing. In fact, it might be disappointing even for movie fans who haven’t read the comic books.

RIPD City of the Damned cover R.I.P.D. Producer Talks Men in Black Influence & Buddy Cop Ghosts

When asked how the film compares to the comics, Moritz replied:

“I think there are concepts, the characters are very similar. We used it as a jumping off point and there’s a lot that’s similar in both and there’s a lot that’s different in both. I like to think that these movies kind of stand on their own and whether you’ve read the comic book or not read the comic book, the movie is enjoyable to you either way.

“I think that sometimes – especially a comic that has a beloved fanbase but it’s a small fanbase – if we don’t expand it a bit, it doesn’t become a movie for everybody. When you’re making movies at such a high level budget, you really have to make movies that really are for more than just a small group of people.”

While Moritz’s view is understandable – Universal is going to want to make its money back, after all – and a lot of comic books movies tend to stray from the source material, phrases like “a movie for everybody” and the hints at pressure from the studio to make the movie as marketable as possible don’t necessarily bode well for R.I.P.D.

Trying to ensure that a movie will appeal to kids, teens, adults, college students and every other demographic can often turn the material into something very bland and generic, whereas making a movie with its own distinct character carries a bigger risk but can often lead to a better end product.

Ryan Reynolds in RIPD R.I.P.D. Producer Talks Men in Black Influence & Buddy Cop Ghosts

The producer also said that the hardest part of R.I.P.D. was just getting it made in the first place, but that he was determined to see the story make it all the way to distribution, despite the setbacks:

“It was one of these movies that came together and fell apart many, many times. But I’ll never forget reading the script the first time. The first time I read the script I was like, ‘I have to make this movie.’ I just loved the relationship between those guys so much and I just loved the concept of the police for the dead … It’s just really a great concept, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movie with that concept before.”

Moritz is right in the sense that R.I.P.D. is definitely the first time we’ve seen the “police department of the dead” concept in movies. With that in mind, the trailer suggests that it will be pretty similar both in tone and plot to Men in Black, with Reynolds as the young recruit from the regular police teamed up with Jeff Bridges’ older, veteran mentor.

The concept is also similar to Bryan Fuller’s canceled TV show Dead Like Me in which people are selected at random after death to join the ranks of grim reapers, ushering new souls into the afterlife in the supernatural equivalent of a civil service job.

The footage from R.I.P.D. that has been released so far haven’t been particularly outstanding, but the premise is cool enough that the movie could well be carried by the concept and cast alone. Let us know what you thought of the trailer – and this latest interview with Neal Moritz – in the comments below.

R.I.P.D. is out in theaters on July 19th, 2013.

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Source: Collider

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  1. I actually have the comics and they are very good. Dark Horse always makes good comics: The Goon, Usagi Yojimbo, Hellboy, etc…

    • Does Roy Pulsipher appear as a woman to the living in the comics?

      Having Jeff Bridges avatar being Marisa Miller I thought was trying
      to hard to be funny in the trailer and didn’t quite work for me.
      I do love Jeff though and Marisa is a living doll, of course.

  2. I thought the trailer was a touch over-the-top and somewhat disappointing.
    However, if the Jeff Bridges / Ryan Reynolds buddy cop relationship clicks
    the film will work and its weaknesses will fade into the background.

    One another note, H., and I believe your name is Hannah,
    have you dropped the use of your first name to just initial?
    It appears you have and I was curious as to why you have.

    • It makes me sound more mysterious. ;-)

      Actually, my gratuitously long name was causing formatting problems.

      • I see. So technical issues gave birth to this.
        And perhaps the desire to add a bit of mystery.

        Now here’s the thing, Shaw-Williams, your last name is hyphenated.
        Something that may not be noted by the eye, people may think Shaw
        is a middle name, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, as it is with most names written
        with a first initial, and you want to be called Shaw like Francis wanted Scott.

        And, of course, worst of all, Shaw is a man’s name. Now we can’t have that.
        Plus there is nothing more mysterious than a woman anyway, so why hide it :D

  3. I saw the trailer and the movie looks awful.

    • Agreed. But after reading about the decision making process in this article I’m not surprised. Almost every time someone says “I like to think that the two works stand on their own” or something to that effect you have to expect a mediocre or even terrible movie.

    • does not. It looks like a good and fun popcorn flick.

  4. When I first heard about this I thought it sounded great. After seeing the trailer the movie looks stupid

  5. One another note, H., and I believe your name is Hannah,
    have you dropped the use of your first name to just initial?
    It appears you have and I was curious as to why you have.

    • I’m trying out the James Bond thing. Pretty soon I’ll drop the surname too and just be the enigmatic ‘H’.

    • If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then
      what does your copy and paste of my post mean?

  6. I know that comic book movies are immensely popular at the moment, but you would think that movie studios would have learnt their lessons about straying too far from the original source material. While I think the casting of Jeff Bridges is awesome (cos he is such a fantastic actor) i didn’t exactly see a lot of chemistry between him and reynolds in the trailer. it seems they have tried to make this movie the new MIB or Ghostubsuters. kids will probably enjoy it, but faithful readers of the comics will probably end up disappointed. but not to be too sad, as there are plenty of (potentially great) comic book movies out this year.

  7. Jeff Bridges is always watchable and Ryan Reynolds too. It may be better than the trailer makes out. Its happened before with bad trailers being made for decent films.

  8. So, I see studios still haven’t learned their lesson about straying from the source materail, and coming up with the generic “we wanted to make it our own, make it fresh.” I say to them, “screw you.” If you want to “make it your own, make it fresh” then make your own movie, with fresh new ideas. Don’t rip off someone elses idea, so you can cash in on the name sake and existing fan base, then change whatever you feel like changing because you’re such an egotistical tool that you think you can do it better than book. If we were to make a list of successful comic to big screen adaptations that strayed way off course from the source material to “appeal to a broader audience,” we would end up with a list of exactly zero films.

  9. Guys, all due respect, but do you know how many people have even read the original comic? Have any of you? We are talking about a few thousand people here, not a big existing fan base. Look it up. I haven’t read the comic, but I did read the screenplay and it was really funny. I can totally picture Bridges being awesome in it. We’ll see.

  10. Is it just me, or is best movie Ryan Reynolds has made in recent years been his appearance in Ted?

  11. Check out the synopsis for a comic from the 90′s called “Trencher”. Then watch the trailer for RIPD again. Something seems a little fishy.

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