Movie Reviews: ‘CHiPs’
Director: Dax Shepard
Cast: Michael Peña, Dax Shepard, Jessica McNamee, Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot: A bike riding champion joins the Californian highway patrol in order to repair his marriage. He is paired with an undercover FBI agent who is trying to unravel a gang of armoured car robbers who are also possibly police officers.
Review: Dick jokes and explosions.
Still with us? Ok, this movie might be for you. There are a large number of dick jokes, with close ups of two bulges touching, Peña accidentally bumping his face against Shepard’s crotch and an entire scene based around getting an erection in a carpark. Writer, director and star Dax Shepard seems downright obsessed with penises. There’s an entire sequence created just to insert his very own full frontal dick shot. It also has explosions, as the highway patrol has purchased some impractically explosive cars. There’s a scene where a gate bumps into two cars and they immediately turn into flaming tornados. This was played for laughs, either…it was meant to be serious.
How much these two elements can compensate for the films major shortcomings is subject to personal opinion, but they’d need to be some pretty impressive dick jokes. The script is so lazy it makes Iron Fist look like Daredevil. Characters turn up for one scene and deliver some exposition to tie them to the main characters just so they can ‘shockingly’ be revealed as betrayers later in the film. One of the most perplexing oversights in the plot is when Peña’s character, who is using the alias ‘Poncho’, fails to remember that this isn’t his real name. Even when his partner finds out he’s FBI, even when he gets fired by the FBI and even when he starts a new life as a real member of CHP he continues using the name Poncho. Did he forget that was a secret identity? Did he just really come to like it in the week or two he spent using it? I almost want a sequel so we can find out if he’s still going by ‘Poncho’.
It seems to be getting repetitive having to write ‘the editing was poor’ in reviews as the film industry as a whole appears to decided that this is a secondary concern in film making. Using editing to build a scene or manage continuity has all but gone out the window. Even in this environment the editing in CHiPs is ABYSMAL. The action has more jump cuts than action. One gag has Peña crashing into the same moat twice…but we never saw him land in it the first time because the scene cut around it. This happens constantly through the film. Perhaps Shepard was more focused on showing of his on-screen and real life wife because, as talented as Kristen Bell is, she only appears in the film to fill out an unzipped swimsuit.
There are a few minor positives to the film. In spite of the material he’s working with Vincent D’Onofrio does manage to play an imposing villain. Peña and Shepard have enough comedic talent to land some of the jokes and the bike scenes can be fun when the editor isn’t cutting out the exciting parts. At the end of the day this compares very poorly to the similarly themed reboot from the same era 21 Jump Street.
Rating: THREE out of TEN