"R.I.P.D." is D.O.A. with critics.
The news is not surprising given that the big-budget, special-effects laden buddy film was not screened in advance for most reviewers. That's nearly always a sure-fire sign that a film has secured a one-way ticket to bombs-ville. However, a few critics were able to catch the film in advance of its debut on Friday.
And oh what a critical evisceration was had by all. The movie, which stars Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as a pair of supernatural cops who are tasked with reining in unruly spirits, eked out an abysmal 10 percent "rotten" rating on the critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. That's a lower score than the recent cinematic disaster "Lone Ranger" managed, although it is slightly higher than "Grown Ups 2" and its 6 percent "rotten" rating. Success!
There's still time for it to catch up with Sandler and crew, however, since most major newspapers and magazines have yet to weigh in on the film.
TheWrap's Alonso Duralde declared the film epic…in its mediocrity.
"Everything wraps up with an ending that portends a sequel, but most viewers will forget 'R.I.P.D.' at approximately the moment they dispose of their empty soda cups in the lobby," Duralde wrote.
In the New York Post, Kyle Smith said the film was a craven rip-off of "Ghostbusters" and "Men in Black." The major achievement, he wrote, was that it found so many fresh ways to stink.
"Every movie coming out this year but 'R.I.P.D.' should pause for a big sigh of relief: The possibility of any of them being called the worst cinematic effort of 2013 has, as of today, just about disappeared," Smith wrote.
Roger Moore of McClatchy-Tribune News Service scrolled back through the recent history of on-screen duds to find a few films that rivaled "R.I.P.D." in sheer awfulness.
"Jeff Bridges collects a big paycheck but burns through a good chunk of his reservoir of Oscar-winning good will with 'R.I.P.D.,' the worst comic book adaptation since 'Jonah Hex,'" Moore wrote. "I’d say he drags Ryan Reynolds down with him, but Reynolds is an old hand at mediocre movies adapted from that medium."
Bill Gibron of Film Racket declared the movie "inert," even though he credited Bridges for injecting what little life there was into the picture with his work as a gun-slinging Western sheriff.
"If ever a movie was made for countless repeats on the USA Network, this is it," Gibron wrote.
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy consigned "R.I.P.D." to the cinematic junk heap and slammed the film as lifeless and humor-free.
"A zombie movie in all but name, this jocular and cheesy adaptation by 'Clash of the Titans' screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi of Peter M. Lenkov's 2001 Dark Horse comic quartet might have been better conceived as the beginning of a lower budget, more modestly aimed franchise along the lines of the Hellboy entries," McCarthy wrote. "But as a major undertaking with clear sequel ambitions, there's just not enough new and exciting here to cut it; when the brief 96-minute running time is one of its two or three only virtues, you know you're in trouble."
Too much bathroom humor and on-screen explosions doomed the film in USA Today critic Claudia Puig's eyes.
"Based on a comic book, 'R.I.P.D.' reinforces the point that not every graphic novel should be adapted to film," Puig wrote.
Scott Foundas of Variety also generally disliked the film, although he was slightly gentler in his condemnation, uttering a few whispers of praise for Bridges and the special effects.
"While the end product still seems all but certain to turn up DOA at this weekend’s box office, the pic itself isn’t quite the calamity some portended, due largely to Bridges, some genuinely impressive visual effects and one of the few running times of the season well under two hours," Foundas wrote.
When a picture's short running time is singled out as one of its few virtues, it's in trouble.