CHIPS: Film Review
Cast: Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kirsten Bell
Director: Dax Shepard
Hoping for a kind of Starsky and Hutch remake level of success, the much-misguided 2017 reboot of beloved kitsch cult 80s TV show CHiPs is perhaps one of the worst films of the year.
Shepard plays Baker a former extreme BMXer whose only skill is on the biking front and whose desperate desire is to win back his estranged wife (Shepard's real life partner and Veronica Mars alum Bell). So by signing up to the Californian Highway Patrol, he hopes that the man in uniform will do the trick.
Baker finds himself partnered up with sex-addicted undercover agent Frank 'Ponch' Poncharello (Pena, who demonstrated great flair for comedy in his recent outing to the Marvel Cinematic Universe), who's sent to look into the possibility of five dirty cops in the California region...
CHIPS is, sadly, utterly irredeemable after about 15 minutes in when one single moment sinks the whole film and any degree of good will you may be willing to offer it.
A sequence where Shepard's character is told 'most of the disabled cadets scored much much higher' and that 'disabled folk are doing a ton these days' is utterly repugnant and gives the film an unnecessary meanness and ugliness that's hard to shake throughout.
The film's deep dive as low as it can go continues with talk of the benefits of anilingus and regular bowel movements in among the bickering banter between Ponch and Baker. And while some of the bromance banter hints at the kind of levity we've seen before in films of mismatched partners since time immemorial, CHIPS has nothing new to offer to the genre, nor is it carried out in a manner which displays any level of maturity and any talent for film-making.
Shepard's MO as writer/ director is simply to fill the bits between rote action sequences with as much flaccid dialogue, homophobia and gay panic as he can muster, and sadly even Pena debases himself by obliging with the script. (Though perhaps, the biggest disappointment is why Erik Estrada felt the need to urinate all over his cult love garnered from the TV Series by agreeing to appear in a cameo.)
Replete with a story that's as thinly stretched as roadkill, CHIPS is a slog of a film that rarely fires like it should or reaches any level of meta-smartness that other films of its ilk aim for.
The opening title board claims: "The California Highway Patrol Does not endorse this film. Not at all."
And quite frankly, neither should you.