It’s not the first time something like this has been done, an old TV show revamped for the big screen. CHIPS had a little spruce-up from when it last aired on TV screens back in the early 80s. You can be excused if you didn’t know anything about it because apart from a reunion TV special in 1998, it’s not a show a younger crowd would know of. The last time an old TV show was revamped for the big screen was probably 21 Jump St or Starsky and Hutch. And while the revamp for a new audience is nice they never really took off, much like CHIPS. But there were a couple of laughs and some famous faces and a whole lot of yoga pants.
Written, directed and starring Dax Shephard (Zathura A Space Adventure, Employee of the Month, Without a Paddle) as the over eager pro bike rider come highway patrol police officer, John Baker. His partner undercover FBI agent Frank “Ponch” Poncherello played by Michael Peña (The Martain, Ant Man, American Hustle). Trucks transporting money on the highway are being robbed and they get away on some souped up motorbikes. Undercover FBI agent Ponch is sent in to investigate the robbery and gets being teamed up with Baker to bring these thieves to justice. Or at least have their heads chopped off or shot in the head by accident because of a titanium bicep.
The story isn’t the strongest of stories to have graced the screen. But keeping in mind it’s a comedy it does set up the jokes and deliver them as to be expected from a comedic actor such as Shepard. Ultimately you have a man, Baker, who wants to impress his wife because he is so in love with her. What he doesn’t realise is she isn’t in love with him, she is in love with his money which has dried up. Ponch on the other hand is a womaniser swept up in his own greatness, which he often messes up. Together the two help each other become better men and ultimately find each other’s company and their job meaningful. It’s very much a movie for the lads what with boobs, bums in yoga pants and the lack of respect for women in general. And while there’s some full frontal nudity from Shepard, there isn’t a great deal for the ladies to enjoy, unless Shepard or Peña is your cup of tea. So what you are left with is ultimately a movie about riding motor bikes, shooting some stuff and drooling over ladies in yoga pants while the two men try to become better at life.
Taking the lead in all aspects of this film is Dax Shepard or perhaps more commonly known as Kristen Bell’s Husband, who also happens to be in the film playing the cheating wife of Baker, Karen. Shepard has a great sense of comedy not only writing it but also in his delivery. But that’s what’s expected of Shepard, you know he is setting up or about to deliver a joke. It’s hard to look at him and expect anything otherwise and it’s this that takes away from his character. It’s not as believable as you’d have thought because you know he’s just going in for the joke.
On the other hand you have Michael Peña who plays Baker’s partner and undercover FBI Agent, Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. While Peña managed to bring some quality acting to the film, for the most part it was obvious he was enjoying playing up to the comedy as well. Peña’s character wasn’t as well developed as perhaps Sherpards was in that he would play this macho guy who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. But what you had was a confused character who started knowing what he wants but then ends up having some really weird insecurities. For example the women he thought was attractive didn’t match the character he was playing which again shows the script was just going for the gag rather than a story. Needless to say Peña brought a level of believability to his character Shepard struggled to have.
Overall the film has some good laughs throughout which put it in the category of a “switch off” film. Where by you don’t need to pay attention to what’s going on, you can just enjoy some butts in yoga pants, fast motorcycles and a bunch of explosions and gunfire shots. While most people born after the early 80s wouldn’t know the original, it seems there isn’t much to compare. For those of you who did grow up with CHIPS, aside from a quick snippet of the theme song, there might be some other moments to reminisce but as a whole it’s just borrowing names and motorbikes. If you’re looking for something you can sink your teeth into, this isn’t the film for you. But if you want to be able to have a good laugh, then sit back relax and enjoy your chips.
Review by Jay Cook