Date Released: 6th April 2017 (Australian release date)
Date Seen: 31st October 2017
Written and Directed by Dax Shepard
Produced by Primate Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment & Warner Bros.
A trend has emerged recently of big budget comedies based on classic TV series. We had the excellent 21 Jump Street movies, we had the mediocre Baywatch movie… naturally, we need the awful movie adaptation to round out the trilogy and lucky us, we got it.
CHiPS, based on the 1977 TV series of the same name, follows Jon (Played by Dax Shepard), a rookie cop who is partnered up with Ponch (Played by Michael Peña) who is actually an FBI agent on an undercover job with the California Highway Patrol. Their job is supposed to be to give out traffic tickets, but Ponch has his own task. There are five dirty cops somewhere in the California Highway Patrol and he’s going to find them no matter what.
For what it’s worth, the film doesn’t look bad. They know how to point a camera and frame a shot decently enough, everything pops on camera and even the dirt brown uniforms are well shot. Yes, the best compliment I can give this movie is that it didn’t look awful, that’s how low we’re sinking here.
The actors just have no charisma whatsoever, I couldn’t care less about anyone. Dax’s character is this annoying idiot who’s having marriage problems, by which I mean “His wife has moved on and is hooking up with Josh Duhamel and clearly he needs to get the hell over it. His entire motivation in this movie is “If I become a cop, my wife will love me again” which would work if she so clearly hadn’t moved on. He’s literally living in the guest house while she has her new beau living in the main house with her, take the goddamn hint dude. Pena’s character is somehow even more annoying because he’s a sex addict who somehow thinks he’s better at his job than he is. I’m sorry but that’s not an interesting character and frankly, I find it a bit annoying that he’s trying to solve these crimes but every time there’s a woman in yoga pants nearby he has to run to a public bathroom to jerk off… that’s literal by the way, they bring it up, he admits to it, it’s a thing he has to do and it’s not funny.
This is another in the line of “Oh god I wanna be 21 Jump Street” kind of movies, Baywatch being the other one but at least Baywatch had leads I cared about and they grew and learned throughout the course of the movie. Neither of these guys really do that, at best Dax’s character learns that his wife is a dick (Again, literally the description they use for her) and that’s it. Also why the hell is Dax’s character even on the force? They make a big deal about the fact that he is so physically damaged from his life as a motorbike stuntman that his arm is titanium and his knee is ruined, but he can somehow be able to be a cop? That’s just unlikely, especially considering how explicit they are about the extent of his injuries.
Comedy-wise, this film is a dud. They just do not seem to have an idea how far to take the joke or even how to tell one. Is the idea of Michael Pena accidentally calling Malcolm in the Middle‘s mom for sex funny? Is that a joke? Are there actually jokes in this comedy because I’m not finding any and I looked, even a joke that isn’t funny would be something I’d accept but I just can’t find an actual joke?
The only thing in this entire movie that’s actually good is Vincent D’Onofrio who plays the villain of the piece and to his credit, I completely buy his motivation and his character. He actually seemed like he gave a damn and because it’s Vincent D’Onofrio, he gave a damn good performance that made his scenes worth seeing. There is one scene in particular where a MAJOR event happens that effects his character and just by how Vincent reacts, you get how big this is and it changes his motivation for the rest of the movie. He is the only actor in this entire movie who was worth anyone’s time.
In the future, when someone decides to remake a classic series as a movie they need to learn that you can’t take the original too seriously. 21 Jump Street worked because the people involved took the basic concept and had fun with it, mocking it the entire way. CHiPS failed because no one was willing to laugh at the original or even understood what made it a classic. It’s a bargain basement movie with a bargain basement script that deserves to be thrown in a basement.