Follow TV Tropes


Film / R.I.P.D.

Go To

R.I.P.D is a 2013 supernatural comedy film based on the comic book Rest in Peace Department, created by Peter M. Lenkov and Lucas Marangon and published by Dark Horse Comics. It was directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.

After detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is killed in action, he is taken to join the undead police division and is assigned to be the partner of Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), a veteran officer of the R.I.P.D — the Rest In Peace Department, a department of dead police officers dedicated to protect and serve the living from arrogant, malevolent, bloodthirsty evil spirits who refuse to move into the afterlife.

The film also stars Kevin Bacon as Bobby Hayes, Mary-Louise Parker as Mildred Proctor, Stéphanie Szostak as Julia Walker and Marisa Miller as Opal Pavlenko.

The film was released on July 19, 2013. A Direct to Video prequel, R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned, was released on November 15, 2022.

R.I.P.D. provides examples of:

  • The '50s: It's mentioned that the dead-os would have overwhelmed the world back in 1954 if the R.I.P.D. didn't do their job.
  • Aborted Arc: Roy refuses to shake Nick's hand, telling the rookie that he has to earn it. This never comes up ever again.
  • Acrofatic: Pulaski, the "Fat Elvis" dead-o, bounds several stories around the city and runs up walls attempting to escape the two protagonists.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Roy basically looks and acts like Rooster Cogburn, even speaking with the same drawl he does in that movie. All that's missing is the Eyepatch of Power.
    • He also makes a speech about killing some dudes in Dodge City. Bridges also played Wild Bill Hickok.
    • And he makes a reference to his zen-like calm.
    • Kevin Bacon is once again recruiting an army of his same-race comrades in a plot to end the world, for everyone else at least.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When Nick tries to cuff a dead-o, he proceeds to rip the cuffed arm off.
  • Anti-Hero: Nick starts out as a corrupt cop who is mainly in it for the money, but his guilt over this and love for his family makes him a sympathetic character regardless.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The head of the R.I.P.D states that the dead remaining on Earth are the cause of "global warming, the Black Plague, and bad cellphone reception."
  • Artifact of Doom: The Staff of Jericho is one, with its effect being to return the dead to Earth, which would cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • The Atoner: R.I.P.D. recruitment essentially works on this principle. Good cops who have done questionable things in the past that would get them an otherwise unfavorable 'afterlife placement' can serve 100 years to balance out their misdeeds.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Subverted in the sense of being undead. While he's disguised as his James Hong character, Nick does attend his own funeral from a distance. He first discovers that he no longer looks like himself when he sprints in and tries to greet his widow.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Hayes mentions at one point that a coyote made love to his skull while he was still dying.
  • Big Bad: Bobby Hayes, Nick's partner who killed him and is secretly a dead-o plotting to unleash the dead upon the Earth.
  • Big Bad Friend: Hayes turns out to be a dead-o, and organizing the dead's plan to reconstruct the Staff of Jericho.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The dead can only die from a headshot (with Magic Bullets). Everything else is considered annoying.
  • Brown Note: A dead-o weapon releases a sound that's harmless to their own kind but cause R.I.P.D. officers to move at a snail's pace.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The afterlife is just full of this. Nick lands in an interrogation room that leads into an infinite wall of filing cabinets, then walks into an infinitely tall and deep prison, and finally into R.I.P.D. Headquarters which is basically a police station except you can't see the roof.
  • Cessation of Existence: Afterlife firearms are harmless to the living, but a Magic Bullets headshot on the dead will remove them entirely.
  • Da Chief: Proctor is this trope, and a rather snarky female one at that. She's fairly reasonable, but she has limited tolerance for Roy's shenanigans and is initially suspicious about the Staff of Jericho, presenting some obstacles for the heroes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Roy, which makes it funny that his alternate appearance is a hot young blonde woman.
  • Cowboy Cop: Roy is a literal example of this trope. It's also mentioned that his antics have kept him in the beat for way longer than a century.
  • Dead All Along: The Big Bad interacts with living beings and lacks the "soul stink" that most Dead-os have, but he is in fact dead at the start of the movie and was just hiding it with a magical talisman.
  • Dead to Begin With: Nick is shot by his corrupt partner at the start of the movie and is dead for the whole movie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: No pun intended.
    • Both Nick and Roy, and given their line of work, it comes to no surprise.
    • Proctor, in spades. Her first line tells you everything you need to know about her:
      Proctor: [to Nick] Tough day...
  • Deal with the Devil: Hayes.
  • Dirty Cop: Nick and Hayes. But Nick was feeling guilty over the gold they've been hiding and decides to turn them over, so Hayes killed him.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Staff of Jericho. The deados are collecting its pieces to reassemble it, so the dead can return to Earth.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Create a public-relations disaster for the R.I.P.D. and they might just suspend you... or they might decide to kill your soul.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Roy; he did live/die before cars were even around, and it's not like he can be injured if he does crash.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Roy immediately picks up on a dead-o's presence because an assistance dog starts barking its head off when Pulaski walks by.
  • Fat Bastard: The dead-o Pulaski, a.k.a. "Fat Elvis" already lives upto his name, but when cornered by the protagonists reveals his true self and bulks up considerably. Applies to a few others, as well.
  • Foreshadowing: Nick's partner doesn't wear armor during the raid. Not to mention the little charm he wears in the beginning.
  • For the Evulz: Hayes decides to use Nick's wife as a Human Sacrifice, not because he has to but for his own sick amusement.
  • Gatling Good: The dead-os universally use the same revolvers and six-barrelled riflesnote  that the R.I.P.D. deploys as well... except for that one guy in the final battle who suddenly breaks out a full-sized, backpack-fed minigun. The beast predictably makes short work of about a dozen good guys before it suffers a sudden misfire and is rendered temporarily inoperable.
  • Gender Bender: To everyone living, Roy looks like a (beautiful) young woman. Later we see Proctor has a male avatar and Nick's second avatar is a girl scout.
  • Glamour Failure: Dead-o's can disguise themselves as humans and are only given away by the negative effect their presence has on the environment. Oddly enough, cumin can force a dead-o to assume their true appearance against their will, which is regularly exploited by both sides.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: After getting fed up with his obnoxious new partner, Nick throws Roy in front of a passing bus, and he lands on the windshield. For added funny, this isn't Roy we see smacked flat against the glass before sliding down, but his avatar that the living ones see as a gorgeous woman.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: There are obviously Powers That Be, but they evidently can't be bothered to lift a finger themselves even when the Staff of Jericho is recreated.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Roy threatens to castrate a modeling agent that hits on his avatar.
    • Nick's beatdown of a dead-o (with his own severed arm) ends with a whack between the legs.
  • The Hero Dies: Played with. Nick is killed by Hayes at the beginning, but he spends the rest of the movie as a spirit.
  • Hollywood New England: The film is set in Boston, however only Kevin Bacon's character appears to have the stereotypical accent.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Staff of Jericho needs this to be activated, which is lampshaded by the Big Bad. However, he also makes clear that pretty much any human would do and that choosing Julia to fill this role is a completely personal choice. Also somewhat subverted in that him inflicting a stomach wound to Julia is enough for the Staff to activate as her blood is sucked into it.
  • Immortality Hurts: Stated quite eloquently by Nick after Roy uses him as a crash pad to soften his landing (as well as being crashed back and forth on a fire escape on the way down.)
    Roy: You might have noticed we're pretty durable.
    Nick: It still hurts.
  • Internal Affairs: Eternal Affairs, in this case.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the end, Nick decides to let Julia go so that she can live her life.
  • Karmic Transformation: Stated to be a part of when a dead-o pops. For example, the first dead-o Nick arrests was a snitch in life, so his popped form has large, permanently yawning mouth.
  • Lightning Bruiser: "Fat Elvis" is a bonafide juggernaut that can plow through pretty much anything without slowing down, and despite his bulk he can run like the wind and leap like a kangaroo.
  • The Masquerade: Spirits are visible to mortals, but usually stay disguised so as to avoid attracting attention, which neither side wants. A big stink is raised when Nick and Roy chase an undisguised dead-o in public in the middle of the day.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Roy's avatar is played by supermodel Marisa Miller, who has posed for both Victoria's Secret and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The dead, be they R.I.P.D. or dead-o, simply cannot be harmed in any meaningful way other than Magic Bullets. Nick is beaten with rocks and cinderblocks in the climax, and treats it like an inconvenience.
  • No Endor Holocaust: It's very clear that assembling the Staff of Jericho, even before activating it, causes rips in the mortal world that tear down many buildings. In the end there are still massive holes and no mention of them is made.
  • Old-Timey Ankle Taboo: Because Roy is from The Wild West, his favorite thing to ogle at on a woman is her ankles.
  • One-Winged Angel: The true form of the renegade spirits is always a horrifically distorted monster that they just hide to appear alive. This ranges from extra hands to dislocated jaws to horrifically full bellies.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Many look normal and can interact with the world like "living" beings but the "Dead-O's" expose their One-Winged Angel Game Face when they sniff spices. Headshots with specific weapons make them Deader than Dead, but they are Nigh-Invulnerable otherwise.
  • Perception Filter: R.I.P.D. officers appear to the living as someone other than themselves. If the intention was for them to be inconspicuous, then an old Chinese man and a supermodel probably wasn't the best idea. Their weapons are likewise disguised; Nick gets a banana and Roy's is a hairdryer. Dead-os also have this ability, but it's nullified if they're exposed to cumin.
  • Pointless Doomsday Device: Roy, in a quick moment as the Only Sane Man, quite loudly asks who the hell thought that the development of the Staff of Jericho was anything close to a good idea.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    'Hayes: Well, partner.
    Nick: [in his old man guise] I have a new partner. [shoots and disintegrates Hayes for good]
  • Product Placement: A carton of Garelick Farms milknote  and a tin of McCormick spices both have important implications in the film.
  • Race Lift: An in-universe example. To everyone except other R.I.P.D. officers, Nick appears to be an elderly Chinese man. And Proctor is a tall black man.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Men in Black WITH GHOSTS! Or Bleach IN AMERICA!
  • Reverse Polarity: Combined with Apocalypse How. The Staff of Jericho makes the gate to the afterlife (a giant fan) spin in the opposite direction and send all the dead back to Earth.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Massive revolvers loaded with magic bullets seem to be the standard issue sidearms for both the R.I.P.D. and the dead-os. If that's not enough firepower, rifle-sized, pepper-box-like versions that look suspiciously like the Godkiller are also available.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Despite being suspended for the fiasco with Fat Elvis, Nick and Roy continue working their leads on the gold.
  • Shot in the Ass: Fat Elvis gets shot in the ass by Roy's Grappling-Hook Pistol and by Nick's regular bullet later on.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Just like with X-Men: First Class, Kevin Bacon's character doesn't appear at all in the trailer, despite being a very plot-important character. Though this can be justified as wanting to avoid potentially spoiling his character's true motivations. (Bacon can be seen briefly in the opening police raid at the beginning of the official trailer, but it still doesn't even give a hint to his importance to the plot.)
  • The Sociopath: Bobby Hayes, who thinks nothing of killing his partner and supposed best friend, afterwards shamelessly comforting his grieving wife. He also turns out to be an undead abomination that seeks to unleash the dead upon the Earth, and is absolutely chipper when telling said grieving wife that she'll be his sacrifice to do it.
  • Team Title: R.I.P.D.
  • Threat Backfire: Knowing that most Dead-os don't want to lose their human forms by being exposed to cumin, Nick attempts to interrogate Pulaski by taking a handful of the stuff and holding it within reach of him, with the implicit threat of throwing it at the Dead-o if he doesn't answer questions. Unfortunately, Pulaski is such a Fully-Embraced Fiend that he declares "You know what? I'm sick of hiding!", then grabs Nick's hand and practically buries his face in the cumin.
  • Time Stands Still: Death or near-death results in this, until the person's soul is sucked up or someone revives them.
  • Transformation Exhilaration: When Roy and Nick try to get answers out of Pulaski (a.k.a. Fat Elvis) with a handful of cumin, the Dead-o decides he's "sick of hiding," and snorts the lot out of Nick's hand. As he begins to change, Pulaski gleefully chuckles "thankyou, thankyouverymuch," then shudders violently like he's just taken a hit of cocaine as he expands into a morbidly-obese giant. He even remarks "that's better" as the transformation concludes, before flinging himself into battle with a triumphant war cry.
  • Trojan Prisoner: The Big Bad does this to steal the confiscated pieces of the Staff of Jericho from R.I.P.D. headquarters.
  • Walking Wasteland: Dead-os' "soul stank" causes electrical problems and other signs of decay around them, even before they "pop." When the Big Bad reveals himself, his entire house decays and collapses around him.
  • Wall Run: Fat Elvis can manipulate his center of gravity, allowing him to walk/run along the walls of buildings.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Cumin doesn't hurt dead-os, but it causes them to "pop" and turn into horrible monsters (a change they can't reverse).
  • Weirdness Censor: Played with. Nick/old Chinese guy gets crushed by a car and a group of bystanders rush to help him. The Dead-o's actions do not go unnoticed by the media.