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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "CHiPS" should be cited for "movie violation"

Mar 24, 2017 09:44PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Michael Peña and Dax Shepard in CHIPS - © 2017 Warner Bros.

CHiPS (Warner Bros.)

Rated R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.

Starring Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Vincent D'Onofrio, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Adam Brody, Rosa Salazar, Vida Guerra, Kristen Bell, Jessica McNamee, Jane Kaczmarek, Justin Chatwin, Ryan Hansen, Maya Rudolph, Ben Falcone, Richard T. Jones, Adam Rodriguez, David Koechner, Ed Begley Jr., Mae Whitman.

Written and Directed by Dax Shepard, based on CHiPs by Rick Rosner.



I really don’t understand the recent trend of remaking old TV shows into major motion pictures. Sure, it was cute when we got a campy version of The Brady Bunch, and thrilling when we got a vastly-improved version of The Fugitive, but along the way, the lust for more box office cash has led major motion picture studios to update mediocre or terrible TV shows from the 1970s and 80s into feature films. What most people forget is that some of these shows were popular only because there were only three networks, leaving audiences with few choices in a very small pool of content. A series like CHiPS, a mediocre program at best, would not get a green light in today’s TV world, with competition like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and other critically-acclaimed and commercial successes. In case you’re younger than 45, CHiPS was a show about California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers who drove around on the freeways and blew their sirens (almost nonstop) in pursuit of bad guys and traffic violators. Sometimes, the original “Ponch” (Erik Estrada) would disco dance. For some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to have Dax Shepard (mostly famous for being married to Kirsten Bell, and infamous for appearing in really awful movies like Without a Paddle, Idiocracy, Employee of the Month, and Let’s Go to Prison) to write, direct and star in a contemporary film adaptation of CHiPS.

Shepard stars as John Baker, a former motorcycle stunt rider who is attending the California Highway Patrol Academy to “save his marriage” because his X-Games career has washed up. His wife Karen (played by Shepard’s real wife Kristen) is openinly cheating on him with a houseguest. Meanwhile an FBI agent (Michael Pena) assumes the name Frank “Ponch” Poncherello to go under cover within the CHP to root out a group a corrupt cops, led by Ray Kurtz (Vincent D’Onofrio). Ponch and John are assigned as partners, and they go through a series of awkward “bonding” moments until they gain each other’s trust and do all they can to catch the bad guys.

CHiPS is a really, really awful movie, which is less of a story and more of a series of sexual, disgusting sight gags thrown together around a weak script and even weaker story. I did not laugh once during the one hour and forty minutes of the movie, and I can’t figure out what Shepard was trying to accomplish, other than make himself look like a really good guy (he’s the “sensitive” one in the partnership, who constantly signals virtue to everyone he interacts with). It seems that the entire mission of CHiPS is discover new ways to reach new lows, especially in terms of gross humor, sexual behavior and implausible plot lines. All this garbage wastes the comedic talents of Pena, who cannot redeem this cinematic mess from being added to the growing list of terrible Dax Shepard movies.

It’s a safe bet that CHiPS will make the top five in my “worst” list for 2017. It’s one of those rare circumstances where a crappy 1970s or 80s TV show was much better than the movie.

In the meantime, someone should cite Dax Shepard for a “Movie Violation.”

CHiPS Trailer