Quantcast
please donate

since 1997 | by maryann johanson

CHiPs movie review: they promised chip would happen, and it did

CHiPs red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Toilet humor, cars exploding for no reason, random naked boobies, and gay panic… although, weirdly, also lots of awkward, unerotic nearly naked Dax Shepard.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): enjoyed the TV show, but I was like eight then
I’m “biast” (con): enough with the reboots
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

In 2011, the comedian and actor Dax Shepard made his feature debut with the mockumentary Brother’s Justice. In it, he plays a version of himself as — in the words of Gary Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times — “an impulsive, clueless narcissist on a journey to reinvent himself as an action star.” The plot involves Shepard running around Hollywood trying to raise money to make a cash-grab action movie starring himself. His 2012 second feature as writer and director (and star), action comedy Hit and Run, might have looked like a fulfillment of that dream, if Shepard squinted hard enough: though it was low-budget and independently financed, it was a mild success (earning $14 million on a budget of $2 million). That doesn’t get you a good parking spot on a studio lot, however.

“Wikipedia says there’s no other retro TV left to reboot, so this is it, dude.”

“Wikipedia says there’s no other retro TV left to reboot, so this is it, dude.”tweet

So somehow — on the back of Hit and Run, perhaps — Shepard convinced Warner Bros. to give him $25 million to write and direct an unironically idiotictweet reboot of a pleasantly, earnestly cheesy 70s/80s TV show about motorcycle cops in Los Angeles. Even though the pitch for this movie cannot have been too far off this: “Imagine Idiocracy’s Ass, but with cops and motorcycles. But without any cool motorcycle stunts, and with pretty much the worst cops LA has ever seen. Starring me.”

Imagine being the studio exec who said, “Shut up and take our money!”

Imagine being Dax Shepard, and thinking you’ve made it. I hear Forrest Gump’s voice saying, in whispered awe: “Her dream had come true. She was a folk singer,” as Jenny strums a guitar naked in a strip club.

CHiPs gaslights homophobes, which sounds like it should be a good thing, but isn’t.
tweet

CHiPs is about absolutely nothing but Shepard (The Boss, The Judge) showing off his buff body — though, oddly, in ways that are not in the least bit appealing or erotic — while also demonstrating how not homophobic he is even as he engages the audience’s presumed homophobia. This is a movie that is constantly engaging gay-panic “humor” while also being all like “Hey, bro, chill, it’s all cool.” It gaslights homophobes, which sounds like it should be a good thing, but isn’t. We are meant to laugh at men being uncomfortable with other men’s bodies. We are meant to laugh at accidental physical contact between men that isn’t condoned by the Straight Dudes’ Essential Manual for Not Being a Total Fag. But then there’s the camera lingering on Shepard’s pecs in the most absurdly awkward way, like he’s posing for the Sears 1979 menswear catalog, maybe, a hopelessly, cluelessly dorky idea of male beauty by a man who doesn’t find men beautiful but only wants us to notice how much he’s been working out.

This is pretty fucking exhausting, in fact.

Sadly, the only product-placement deals CHiPs could rustle up was with Trump-brand You’re Fired fire extinguishers.

Sadly, the only product-placement deals CHiPs could rustle up was with Trump-brand You’re Fired fire extinguishers.tweet

Most of the other stuff meant to pass for humor here is Michael Peña’s (Collateral Beauty, The Martian) character being a sex addict who has to stop to jerk off every hour or so, his ability to genuinely find women powerfully sexually attractive even if they aren’t hottie Barbie dolls, and his willingness to orally pleasure women. Two of those three are authentically good advice for men who would like to have regular sex with women, and not actually things straight men should be presenting as humor, or laughing at.

CHiPs is, of course, sort of an acronym for the California Highway Patrol division of the LAPD, which this movie has little use for. Shepard’s Jon Baker is the oldest rookie ever at the CHP, a distinction he has achieved even though he shows every sign of being a terrible, terrible police officer. He is supposed to be a former X Games athlete and seriously badass motorcycle rider looking to make a new start. This seems like the setup for a movie that might feature, you know, some seriously badass motorcycle riding, even if it had to be a stuntman wearing a helmet pretending to be Jon. A modern-day version of that old show could have been like the first Fast and the Furious, all energetic and exciting vehicular stunt driving. It isn’t. Instead, we get the ordinary injustice of a totally incompetent and unqualified white man being given an incredible break, just because, and then proceeding to do barely even any of the thing he is supposed to be really good at.

If kindergartners were let loose to make an action movie, it might look like this.
tweet

Jon’s partner is Peña’s Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, who isn’t even LAPD but an FBI agent undercover to investigate a series of armored-car robberies that seem to be inside jobs pulled off by LAPD officers. Apart from the confounding enigma of Vincent D’Onofrio (The Magnificent Seven, Jurassic World) slumming it, for unknown reasons, as the cop-slash-robbery gang leader, there is almost no mystery in this ostensible plot.

If kindergartners were let loose to make an action movie, it might look like this: full of toilet humor, cars exploding for no reason, and random naked boobies. How proud everyone involved must be.


red light 0 stars

FlickFilosopher.com is wholly supported by readers. Please make a one-time donation (PayPal account NOT required) -- even $1 helps -- or set up a recurring subscription (PayPal account required).

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for the daily digest email and get links to all the day’s new reviews and other posts.

CHiPs (2017) | directed by Dax Shepard
US/Can release: Mar 24 2017
UK/Ire release: Mar 24 2017

MPAA: rated R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, sex references, sex, nudity, violence)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Danielm80

    This makes me sad, because I’m a big fan of Kristen Bell. Her comic timing is phenomenal, and she apparently loved playing against type. I assume her character is a sexist cliché (she plays a trophy wife), but is there any value in watching her performance if clips show up online eventually?

  • Jurgan

    ” a hopelessly, cluelessly dorky idea of male beauty by a man who doesn’t find men beautiful but only wants us to notice how much he’s been working out.”

    Here’s what this reminds me of. In video game and comics fandom, there’s a common line that goes like “yeah, women are made to look sexy, but there are unrealistic expectations for men, too! Look at how muscular the guys are!” The standard rebuttal is that the ultra-muscly guys aren’t based on women’s sexual fantasies but rather men’s power fantasies. It’s designed to give the presumed straight male audience someone to identify with.

  • RogerBW

    I never saw the original, though it was around when I was a kid; the impression I get reading about it now is that it was a bit more comical than the usual “serious” cop shows of the day like Starsky and Hutch. That may have been what gave Shepard the idea of making this a modern-style comedy, I suppose…

  • bronxbee

    what a shame. i kind of like dax shepherd from what i’ve seen of him on talk shows, his role in Parenthood and the commercials he does for washing machines. but i have come to expect from bitter experience (i’m looking a you Man from UNCLE) that reboot movies of old shows are just horrible.

  • Bluejay

    I thought he was good playing a jerk boss in This is Where I Leave You. He’s also good in homemade video tributes to Toto.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgL3puDfuRg

  • Danielm80

    I like the contrast in acting styles. Kristen is just goofing around in front of the camera, and Dax is giving an intense, committed, hardcore-’90s-rock star performance. It’s like the clash of styles in A Streetcar Named Desire, but with rhinos and giraffes.

  • Beowulf

    If it’s any consolation, this was D.O.A. at the box office here in the U.S.
    this weekend (rather like TRUMPCARE).

  • Bluejay

    “Wikipedia says there’s no other retro TV left to reboot, so this is it, dude.”

    But they haven’t gotten to the best ones yet! :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb4C7vSByMM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA1NT4I0s34

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugb_TIpPoWA

  • She’s barely in the film at all. No, there is no value in watching her in this.

  • How much you wanna bet Shepard gets another chance to direct a studio film anyway?

  • Don’t give them any ideas.

  • Danielm80

    Netflix can give Dax Shepard his own production deal, like they did with Adam Sandler, only Dax’s studio will do nothing but reboot ’80s TV shows for his fans on Netflix. The rest of the world can safely ignore him. Everybody wins.

  • Danielm80
  • Beowulf

    Well, of course — he’s a white male.

  • RogerBW

    Who has made back 18 out of 25 million in the first two weeks, which isn’t a failure by modern Hollywood standards, and who has done it relentlessly by the book so won’t be penalised for originality.

  • Bluejay

    Update: Well, maybe someone in TV land read this thread. Although if you’re going to reboot an old show, this seems to be a step in the right direction (or at least an interesting one).

    http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-greatest-american-hero-is-coming-back-with-an-india-1802791753

  • It’s a start…

Pin It on Pinterest