R.I.P.D.In the spirit of Ghostbusters and Men in Black, the supernatural comedy R.I.P.D. -- new to DVD and Blu-ray this week -- is both bloated and underachieving, but it's still got a couple of selling points.
Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds star as deceased lawmen in the afterworld's Rest In Peace Department, tasked with chasing down rogue "Deados" -- criminals who remain on Earth when they should have crossed over the Other Side long ago.
Further twists: Reynolds is a modern-day Boston cop, but Bridges is a U.S. Marshall from the 1800s with a Wild West attitude toward law enforcement. The R.I.P.D. officers have superhuman abilities and advanced weaponry, and they look more or less like they did in life -- to one another, at least. To the living on Earth, however, they look like their assigned "avatars" -- an elderly Chinese man and a blonde bombshell, respectively.
R.I.P.D. must have looked good on paper, with its weirdo premise and clear franchise potential. But the movie was roundly dismissed by critics and audiences both upon theatrical release this summer, with good reason. Even within the relatively forgiving category of silly comic book action movies, R.I.P.D. is uncommonly dumbed-down and formulaic.
The film did, however, have a $130 operating budget and director Robert Schwentke (Red) makes sure every penny of it is up there on the screen. The movie's first main selling point is watching the special effects team have an expensively good time with the film's over-the-top visual style: Be prepared for outrageous chase scenes, Matrix-style bullet-time shootouts, and a dozen different CGI monsters.
The second selling point: Bridges' goofball performance as U.S. Marshall Roy Pulsipher, the most ornery cowboy since Yosemite Sam crossed the Pecos. Bridges has all the best lines and finds the funny in several otherwise uninspired scenarios. Mary-Louise Parker also has fun as a bored afterlife bureaucrat, while Reynolds does his usual thing, standing there and looking handsome.
R.I.P.D. isn't a particularly good movie, but it's not a total loss and older kids will like it, so long as your family is OK with gratuitous swear words and adolescent sexual references.
Extras: Alternate and deleted scenes, a gag reel and some behind-the-scenes material on the story's adaptation from comic book to silver screen.
A safer and funnier choice for kid-friendly Halloween movie night, the Pixar prequel Monsters University brings back most of the oddball charm of the original film. Billy Crystal and John Goodman return as Mike and Sully, good-hearted kid-scarers in an extended flashback to the halcyon days of college.Monsters University
There are plenty of quality jokes and good visual gags in this one, and some interesting detours into the backstory of Mike and Sully's friendship. Randy Newman also returns as musical composer and the movie has that casually artful vibe that Pixar can conjure seemingly at will. This isn't first-tier Pixar material, but it's not as flat as the studio's last sequel attempt, the disappointing Cars 2.
Extras: The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack provides Pixar's usual suite of quality extras, with a dozen different production featurettes, audio commentary and the lovely animated short The Blue Umbrella.
Finally, fans of the man they call The Boss might want to keep an eye out for the rather unique documentary Springsteen & I, which had a limited run in theaters over the summer. The film stitches together amateur videos from hundreds of Bruce Springsteen devotees, each of whom uploaded their heartfelt testimonials by way of a collaborative online project.
Contributors were encouraged to send in short clips in which they told their Springsteen stories is a "visually exciting way," or to simply send a very short "selfie" style video in which they chose three words to describe Springsteen and his music. Director Baillie Walsh breaks up the fan testimonials with plenty of footage of Springsteen himself, including early archival footage, video clips and performances performances from Springsteen's famous 2012 concert in London's Hyde Park.
It's all surprisingly compelling and intimate -- Springsteen fans are seriously devoted -- and the whole project is an interesting rumination on how music cycles from artist to audience and back again.
Also New This Week:
Filmmaker Christopher Guest takes the next logical step with HBO's longform "mockumentary" series Family Tree: The Complete First Season, starring the very funny and underrated Chris O'Dowd. Bonus features include deleted scenes and outtakes.