review by Bobby Blakey
With the success of the 21 Jump Street big screen reboot it seems that is the new direction a lot of filmmakers are trying to go with bringing classic TV shows to theaters. The latest is bringing the popular series CHiPs that ran from 1977-1983 this time with Dax Shepard and Michael Pena in the title roles of Ponch and John alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Brody, Ryan Hansen, Justin Chatwin, and Jane Kaczmarek, but could it deliver something fun or will it end up running off the road?
CHIPS follows Jon Baker and Frank Ponch Poncherello who have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten-up former pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover Federal agent investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside-job inside the CHP. The inexperienced rookie and the hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kick-starting a real partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker's unique bike skills and Ponch's street savvy it might just work...if they don't drive each other crazy first. The trailers for this film played it up as almost a spoof of the series, but in fact it is a pretty straight forward action comedy. They aren’t breaking down any comedy walls here, but the film offers up some fun action and laughs.
Dax Shepard is taking on multiple roles outside of acting including writer and director. I loved his film Hit and Run so was looking forward to see what he was coming up with for this flick and he did not disappoint. The biggest reason this film works at all is the chemistry between Pena and Shepard. The both look like they are having a blast with the film and in turn it makes it a lot more fun to watch. Sure not all of the jokes hit and the story isn’t anything all that new, but I still enjoyed it for what Shepard was trying to do. The laughs that work are really funny including an ongoing gag regarding eating butt that had me laughing every time. The other side of the film is all about the action and stunts. Shepard proved with Hit and Run he could shoot car action and does a good job of it here as well with the addition to the motorcycle action.
Where this film struggles for me is really that it felt too safe. They clearly wanted to push that R rating and at times did, but not quite as far as they needed to make it stand out. I have to admit that I am bummed it wasn’t received better as I would love to see these two guys back together patrolling the streets. Make no mistake this is far removed from the original series and won’t work for everyone, but I expected it not to work and found myself having some fun. In addition to the film this release also includes bonus content including featurettes and deleted scenes. Hit the streets and grab your copy of CHIPS when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on June 27th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.