Big-screen ‘CHiPs’ a ‘tawdry, sexist’ disappointment
CALIFORNIA: CHiPs was a wholesome TV show in the 1970s and 1980s about two California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers. They were a couple of good-natured guys who embodied California cool with their motorcycles and mirrored sunglasses, solving problems, catching criminals and brightening days everywhere.
However, Dax Shepard, the writer, director, producer and star of the big-screen CHiPs reimagined it as a tawdry, testosterone-fueled tale built around penis jokes and endless evaluation of women’s appearances.
The two main characters discuss the looks of almost every woman on screen.
Calling someone “a 2” might be a forgivable comic misstep, but making such remarks a major part of the movie’s humour is reductive and gross, not to mention outdated and uninspired. Maybe you need to look like Kristen Bell (Shepard’s wife, in real life and this film) or have a Y chromosome to find it funny.
News flash: Women don’t exist to be beautiful for men.
Doesn’t everyone know that in 2017 — particularly Shepard, who has two young daughters?
The best thing about CHiPs is some classic Southern California scenery and superb motorcycle riding, complete with stairwell tricks, airborne stunts and long shots of that beloved mecca for local bikers, Angeles Crest Highway.
But, overall, the film is an uncomfortable eye-roll. Shepard and co-star Michael Pena have plenty of charm, but not enough to support the feeble story and tasteless jokes.
Shepard is Jon Baker, a former motorcross champ trying to reinvent himself and save his marriage by joining the CHP.
The 40-year-old rookie is paired with Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Pena), an FBI agent working undercover to root out potentially crooked officers within the CHP.
But, this Jon and Ponch are so inept, so distracted by hot chicks and pseudo-philosophical conversations about “homophobia” and “closure”, that buying them as actual law enforcement is too much of a stretch.
They’re more like frat guys doing cosplay.
Guy humour is one thing, but this is just dumb. One repeated gag involves Shepard in his underpants and Pena’s discomfort at being around his near-naked partner.
“You face-planted my bag!” Jon says to Ponch.
That kind of low-brow stupidity could be redeemed by a strong story or well-developed characters, but CHiPs offers neither.
(Above, from left) Dax Shepard, Michael Pena and Rosa Salazar in a scene from ‘CHiPs’. (Below) Jessica McNamee arriving for the movie premiere.