THE STORY – Jon Baker and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello have just joined the California Highway Patrol in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a former motorbike rider who’s trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky, undercover FBI agent who’s investigating a multimillion dollar heist that may be an inside job. Forced to work together, the inexperienced rookie and hardened veteran begin clashing instead of clicking while trying to nab the bad guys.
THE CAST – Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Brody, Rosa Salazar, Vida Guerra & Kristen Bell
THE TEAM – Dax Shepard (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 101 Minutes
By Ben Scanga
There’s something about raunchy comedies that I admittedly have a soft spot for, which is why I kind of wanted to see “CHiPS.” I was in the mood for a lot of f-bombs and witness a lot of misogyny and that’s exactly what I got. The film does nothing new with the “buddy cop movie” formula and it never really surprised me with anything either. There are no character arcs and no deeper meaning. It’s just there to serve as one hundred minutes of bland camera work with action scenes shot on a Go-Pro. I would say it’s enjoyable but at the same time, it kind of is not.
“CHiPS” follows FBI agent Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Pena), as he teams up with a rookie officer on the California Highway Patrol on his latest case. The rookie, Jon Baker (played by writer and director, Dax Shepard) soon discovers that his partner isn’t who he claims to be and that his latest case involves his co-workers on the California Highway Patrol.
Hear me out, “CHiPS” is without a doubt, a very bad film. There’s very little about it that’s actually positive in terms of filmmaking and I really can’t say that it is worth your hard-earned money but Michael Pena and Dax Shepard’s chemistry is undeniable. Although he does not do a good job telling a coherent story or directing his actors, Shepard has so much energy and charisma that it’s hard to not be entertained by him for the first act. Eventually, the humor gets stale and the laughs become too few and too far between that after the first act was done with, I could hardly enjoy myself.
Dax Shepard clearly does not know what pacing is as he throws all his eggs into one basket (Or in this case, all the good moments into the third act) and leaves us with bad acting and cringeworthy dialogue, topped off with subplots that aren’t even brought up again and are only used for one gag that isn’t even that funny. That’s been happening a lot with comedies as of late, even in “T2: Trainspotting” the filmmakers of that film did something along these lines.
One of the few things I can praise this movie for is that it doesn’t rely too much on nostalgia. Sure, you do have a few jokes here and there for fans of the show and you also have a cameo at the end that will make you happy if, once again, you are a fan of the show. That doesn’t mean you have to sit through one hundred minutes of anilingus jokes. Those jokes about that kind of act or anything related can be really funny but when the joke is literally “It’s funny because they keep talking about rim jobs” and they repeat it to the point where you’re just rolling your eyes, proves to you that Dax Shepard is not funny with his own material, which is kind of comparable to something along the lines of “Goon 2”. Dax Shepard is decent when other people are helping him write or he’s acting off their material but when he’s in full creative control? It doesn’t work out that well, kind of like Jay Baruchel with the “Goon” movies. He’s absolutely hilarious in “This Is The End” but “Goon 2” was painfully unfunny and suffers from quite a lot of the same cons as this movie does.
I don’t recommend seeing “CHiPS” if I’m being completely honest. I don’t think it deserves your money or even your attention. It deserves to be a bomb. Dax Shepard shouldn’t be given full creative control over a project that carries so much nostalgia with so many people because the person I saw it with, said that it’s nothing like the show. If you’re looking for a good time right now, your best options are either “The Lego Batman Movie” or “Get Out.” Both movies are light years ahead of this in creativity, ambition, atmosphere and almost everything under the sun in terms of how to make a film with a straight forward narrative and tasteful comedy.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Michael Pena seems to be genuinely trying to salvage this mess.