Based on the 1970s American comedy series of the same name, Dax Shepard has decided, for God knows what reason, to reboot CHIPS, as director, writer and lead star. Given how underwhelming and gloriously unfunny this production is, there really is only one man to blame. Sorry, Dax.
Shepard plays Jon Baker, who just about fails his training to become a member of the California Highway Patrol, but is granted a position on the team simply for being a nice bloke. Emblematic of this film in many ways – as the affability of the lead star is one of very few saving graces. Told that if he doesn’t come in the top 10% he’ll be fired, he fervently vies to impress, though is partnered with a man who has completely different objectives, as Frank Poncherello (Michael Pena) is an undercover FBI agent who is tasked with uncovering the identities of five members of the organisation who have been involved in a recent stream of crimes across the city, resulting in dead bodies. Suited up (despite looking more like UPS delivery men than bonafide law enforcers), they hit the streets, hoping to utilise Baker’s motorcycle skills and Ponch’s intellectual eye to get to the bottom of this web of internal corruption – and hand out a few parking tickets along the way.
The action comedy genre is one that rarely breeds results in a contemporary setting, often struggling to find a compatible balance between having a fast-paced, engaging narrative, while injecting comedy in the process, and where CHIPS is concerned, it falls short in both areas. The premise is somewhat promising, but as we progress tedium kicks in, and it follows the same beats and formula we’ve seen countless times before. As for the comedy? Well, let’s just say the laughs to be had in this instance are at a bare minimum, with so few punchlines succeeding. You would think, given how talented an actor he is, that Pena would provide a shining light, and yet he too is underused, in a sub-genre that we’ve seen him in before, in endeavours such as War on Everyone and 30 Minutes or Less – and this is similarly disappointing.
So the film does what many lacklustre comedies do, and that’s rely on shock value, with a series of misogynistic jokes, in a film where women have so little to do other than represent mere romantic conquests, while we sit back astonished that the two protagonists seem to get lucky with whoever they deem fit enough. It really does feel like the only thing missing here is a post-credits blooper reel – which, if included, may actually have been the funniest thing about this movie.