- James Mottram
- 23 March 2017
Goofy, sporadically funny take on the TV show, written, directed by and starring Dax Shepard
Like The Dukes of Hazzard or The A-Team, CHiPS falls into the category of Hollywood rehash where a fondly remembered TV show gets a movie makeover, with only sketchy connections to the original. In the case of CHiPS – it stands for California Highway Patrol, it's not a reference to the delicious potato-based snack, in case you never saw it – Dax Shepard's comedy duplicates the concept, less so the charm.
Indeed, it's doubtful if the adolescent audience this is undoubtedly aimed at will even care that a show about motorcycle cops starring Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada even existed. The tone here is entirely different, with writer-director-star Shepard revving the film towards broad comic strokes. Or, to put it another way, its brain is in its groin, complete with locker room banter about 'eating ass'. It's like reading Viz, but without the satire.
Shepard, who brings the same rambunctious energy he deployed for his 2012 knockabout comedy Hit and Run, plays Officer Jon Baker, a former dirtbike star covered in scar tissue and desperate to join the CHP. As cops go, he's pretty useless apart from his skills with a bike. He's soon paired with Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello (Michael Peña), who is actually an Internal Affairs officer on an undercover mission to root out corruption in the force.
Vincent D'Onofrio co-stars as their target, the dirty cop Vic Brown, and Shepard's real-life spouse Kristen Bell crops up as Jon's wantaway wife. Largely, this buddy tale falls on the chemistry between Ponch and Baker (they hate each other, they like each other). It's sporadically funny, and the action has a visceral quality to it that, like D'Onofrio's fierce performance, feels like it belongs to another movie. But if you're looking for something undemanding and goofy, this will certainly satisfy.
General release from Fri 24 Mar.