Guess what I am? No, not that. Not that either, no not that, well sometimes that. No, I’m a biker. I’ve been riding bikes for a good few years so I was thrilled that we may be getting a film that would feature motorcycles heavily.
CHIPS is based on the 70’s TV show known as CHiPS that starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. For this update we get Michael Pena (The Martian, Fury) and Dax Shepard (Employee of the Month, Zathura: A Space Adventure) who also directed and wrote the movie.
Dax plays a former X-Fighters rider who, to save his marriage, joins the California Highway Patrol and becomes the oldest rookie. He ends up getting teamed with Pena who is an undercover FBI agent trying to solve an investigation that involves some crooked officers.
I don’t completely remember the original series, it’s been a long time since it was on TV after all. I’m pretty sure the original series was nothing like this though. This CHIPS, seems like it was wrote back when Wayne’s World was popular. Maybe it was and it’s just been sat on some shelf in a studio gathering dust. Who knows?
What Dax has written, and there’s no easy way to put this, just isn’t funny. There are one or maybe two moments where you might laugh. But otherwise it’s cheesy, cliched cock jokes or Pena staring at women’s arses. The plot and story are hugely obvious which has the bonus effect of making it quite dull as you know what’s coming up, what’s about to happen, before the characters do.
This is all a shame as it features some, not bad performances. Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Men in Black) plays the main bad guy and shows, pretty much, everyone in the film how to act. Whilst he’s hugely underused, his performance, particularly in the gym, is brilliant.
We have Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Scream 4), again hugely underused, as Pena’s former partner. They have an ongoing joke that, surprisingly, is not funny. We then have Pena’s boss, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr. (25th Hour, 1408), who plays a character straight from the cliched book of police bosses. A shouty, angry, black police sergeant. It felt like I was watching Last Action Hero and Frank McRae’s performance. Only this wasn’t as good, and I’m sure McRae’s character was an ironic take.
We do get some half-decent bike chases, well one really. But, this being America, they’re mostly massive hogs, except the bad guys who are using Ducati Hypermotards. This prompts Dax and Pena to order some custom bikes for themselves so they can keep up with the bad guys. These too, are Ducati’s. None of this is a good enough reason to watch it.
Then of course, we have the end. The end that involves the ‘biker’s taking a Humvee and crushing the bikes they’ve just rode in on. And a ‘oh we didn’t see that coming’ final shoot-out. There’s ongoing jokes throughout that are supposed to ‘pay-off’ at the end, that don’t, because it’s all too obvious.
We get the obligatory cameo, which happens when an old show or film is re-done, this one from Estrada. But even this Dax manages to turn into a cringeworthy scene.
CHIPS is movie making from the 90’s, things we’ve left behind. Homophobic jokes, dick jokes etc. There’s a place for these (so to speak!), and they still can work, but they don’t with this, not at all.