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The Supernatural Ryan Reynolds Flop Defying Odds And Dominating Netflix

While Ryan Reynolds has starred in some well-received movies like "Deadpool," "Free Guy," and "Waiting...," his career includes a few box office misfires as well. Nevertheless, some people might consider Reynolds to be something of a gift that keeps on giving thanks to a lengthy and varied career. After appearing in several television series and TV movies early on, Reynolds got his first big break with "National Lampoon's Van Wilder," in which he plays a fast talking scamp that doesn't play by the rules. Sounds familiar, no?

Joking aside, Reynolds is certainly popular these days, bolstered by his excitement around playing Marvel's Merc with a Mouth, his constant back and forth on social media with his famous wife Blake Lively, and his cell phone service company Mint Mobile. Reynolds is a star outside of major franchise releases too, including in Apple TV+'s Reynolds and Will Ferrell Christmastime team-up "Spirited," which premiered near the end of 2022. Now, it seems that Reynolds' present day popularity is breathing life into one of his older films, and one that certainly qualified as a flop when it was originally released at that.

Reynold's R.I.P.D. has been resurrected on Netflix

Currently, Ryan Reynolds's "R.I.P.D." is attracting the attention of a considerable number of viewers online, landing it at the top of Netflix's Top 10 list. "R.I.P.D." originally premiered in theaters back in 2013 and stars Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as supernatural cops. What makes their "R.I.P.D." characters distinct is that they're both dead, and now exist as phantoms in the world of the living. Their jobs as undead specters see them tasked with hunting down other dead people who remain at large, attempting to duck the afterlife. This means that Reynolds and Bridges' characters can manifest in the physical world, but with the caveat that they cannot reveal their true nature to civilians. Of course, this becomes a source of comedy throughout the film.

Despite an all-star cast comprised of cinematic powerhouses like Reynolds, Bridges, Kevin Bacon, and Mary-Louise Parker, critics weren't kind to the film in reviews published around the time of its release. Likewise, the movie didn't perform well at the box office, earning $79 million against a $130 million budget. 

However, "R.I.P.D." does engage with a few concepts that set it apart from its competition, at the very least providing viewers with a novel experience.

Netflix subscribers are streaming R.I.P.D. despite poor critical reviews

Beyond Reynolds' growing presence in the present day pop cultural zeitgeist, the resurrection of "R.I.P.D." as a hit on Netflix seems to simply be the result of the film joining the streaming service's catalog at the start of March 2023. Nevertheless, its sudden and sharp rise in popularity is all the more surprising when taking into account what critics had to say about the film in contemporaneous reviews. For example, RogerEbert.com writer Steven Boone awarded "R.I.P.D." one star, and concluded his review by stating, "It's an awful, awful film."

Meanwhile, for The Guardian, Mark Kermode rated the film two-out-of-five stars, and criticized its lack of a proper raison d'être. "Overall, it's a directionless mess: too expensive for a B-movie, too grown-up for a kids' movie (funerals, bereavement and jokes about Steely Dan) and too infantile for everyone else. No wonder it died on its feet in the US," he wrote.

That said, its addition to Netflix is, at least, unsurprising. Near the end of 2022, a prequel — sans Ryan Reynolds — titled "R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned" became available to Netflix subscribers. Of course, for Reynolds' fanbase, quality or the existence of a sequel may even be beside the point. Rather, easy access to a new Reynolds film seems to have been enough of a reason to make what was once a major theatrical flop into a streaming success.