Big-screen ‘CHiPs’ a ‘tawdry, sex­ist’ dis­ap­point­ment

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

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