Raunchy comedy CHiPS stars Dax Shepard and Michael Peña and is a remake of the 1970’s television series of the same name which starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. It follows the characters of Jon Baker (Shepard) and Francis “Ponch” Poncherello who are two California Highway Patrolmen. They each have different reasons to why they are where there at the beginning of the film. Jon is hoping that being a part of the Highway Patrol will fix his broken marriage with his wife Karen (real life wife Kirsten Bell) because he believes that if he reminds of her of her father, she’ll love him again. “Ponch” is a part of the team because “Ponch” is an FBI agent who has gone undercover inside the CHP to find dirty officers who are pulling off dangerous heists around California.
The main question I kept asking myself once I got out of CHiPS was simple: why? Why was this film made? No one asked for it; there was no mass fanfare when it was announced, and many films have done what Dax Shepard is trying to do in this movie far better. It is at this point that I should point out that Dax Shepard directed, wrote and stars in this film, he is truly a triple threat in the most obvious way possible.
The raunchiness of this “comedy” is so over the top that it goes beyond anything resembling tasteful, the majority of the jokes are unfunny, unpleasant and unnecessary. They range from jokes about genitals which alone is nothing original, and it’s ultimately harmless but CHiPS then goes above and beyond the call of duty treating the audience to scenes between Michael Peña and Jane Kaczmarek (Lois from Malcolm in the Middle) which will just make you scratch your head in disbelief as to the relevance of the scene.
On the relevance of some of the elements in CHiPS the violence is completely unnecessary, there are explosions here that would make Michael Bay blush, and there is one scene involving a motorcycle chase that ends incredibly poorly for one character, and it just felt obnoxious. There are much more issues with CHiPS whether it’s the terrible pacing, the off-kilter direction or in my eyes the terrible misuse of some of the best comedic actors in the business. Mae Whitman, Maya Rudolph, Ed Begley Jr. are in this film and are onscreen for the total of 7 minutes. It’s an utter waste of talent.
If there are any positives in this film it comes from the villain played by Vincent D’Onofrio, he’s a man looking to leave California to try and get his son (Justin Chatwin) off heroine. He turns to a life of crime and honestly, he gave a decent performance, but it is so out of place that it shines a bright light on all the glaring issues in CHiPS.
Dax Shepard has done the impossible, he made Michael Peña one of the most charming actors in Hollywood unfunny and detestable, and this feeling of unease and loathsome humour permeates throughout CHiPS leaving a bitter taste after you exit the cinema. Avoid at all costs.