Magazine article Screen International

'CHIPS': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'CHIPS': Review

Article excerpt

Cult status and extended cable life are definite possibilities for this dim-bulb comedy reboot of a beloved 70s TV show

Dir: Dax Shepard. US. 2017. 100mins

A grab bag of vulgarities, sex jokes, slapstick, nudity and chase scenes, the action-comedy CHIPS holds together better than expected, thanks largely to the goofy, dim-bulb rapport between stars Dax Shepard and Michael Peña. But while this big-screen adaptation of the American television series has its share of juvenile laughs, the intermittent hilarity is merely a distraction from how disposable and uninspired the rest of the film is.

Opening in the US and UK on March 24, CHIPS clearly hopes to follow in the footsteps of another R-rated revival of a beloved (and cheesy) TV cop drama, 21 Jump Street. Shepard and Peña's names have some pull with audiences, and although major theatrical grosses seem unlikely, cult status and extended cable life are definite possibilities.

Peña plays Castillo, a FBI agent in Miami sent undercover to Los Angeles to investigate a heist that his superiors believe may have been hatched by rogue cops within the California Highway Patrol. Posing as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, Castillo becomes partners with Jon Baker (Shepard), a former motorbike champion who's hoping that joining the CHP will impress his distant wife (Kristen Bell).

Soon, Baker and Ponch find themselves in the middle of a high-octane investigation, which leads them to a crooked cop named Kurtz (Vincent D'Onofrio), even though the particulars of the case aren't terribly interesting. Directed and written by Shepard, based on the series created by Rick Rosner that ran from 1977 until 1983, CHIPS has a few plot twists, but there's very little suspense or surprise in the storytelling. Rather, the narrative is merely a wobbly platform to allow Shepard to throw countless gags at the audience, leaning heavily on jokes about gay panic and kinky sexual proclivities.

Not surprisingly, the movie is undisciplined, its pacing often laboured and its characters paper-thin. Within that underwhelming framework, though, CHIPS can be quite funny in shamelessly stupid ways. The film's running jokes include everything from Castillo's former partner (played by an exasperated Adam Brody) consistently getting shot by his colleague to the myriad physical difficulties Baker faces because he got injured so often as a motorcyclist. …

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