CHiPS Reviewed By Jarred Tito

The Premise
Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank Ponch Poncherello (Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten-up former pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover Federal agent investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside job-inside the CHP. The inexperienced rookie and the hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kick-starting a real partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker's unique bike skills and Ponch's street savvy it might just work...if they don't drive each other crazy first.

The Review
A fun movie that would be greatly appreciated by anybody that doesn’t take life, drama or action movies too seriously. It’s full of high-speed motorbike chases which are not unlike what you might see from an adrenaline junkie’s ‘POV Cam’ on YouTube. The use of high tech ‘point of view’ bike-mounted cameras gave the dream view of the ‘action chase’ like I’ve not seen in a movie to date. A speed freak’s wet dream in Hi Def. There is also a fair amount of action comedy and innuendos which keep the pace flowing. Shepard and Pena are not exactly what CHiPs fans would expect as the leads but then this is not in any way a movie which intends to behave like the well behaved 1970s drama. They’re a couple of actors that have the rare quality of being able to play very serious drama roles as well as the ‘goofie’ comic relief parts. For example Rene was fantastic in a serious role where he appeared as Daniel in ‘Crash’ and then later as the comic relief in Antman. Shepard was also nominated in 2015 for the People’s Choice award for favourite TV actor in a dramatic role. This mixture of funny/ straight talent is perfect for the serious comedy effect.

Initially there are not a whole lot of comparisons to be made between this production and the original 1977 television show which featured Eric Estrada as the original Ponch. However, when you examine the characters and plot you realise that yes, it actually is very similar. That being said, the story themes are often delivered well below the belt. Risqué would be an understatement. It certainly shows a little more grit than the original too. But to say this new version is grittier than the first would not be entirely accurate either. It’s probably best described as the politically incorrect grandchild of the TV classic.

Having said that, this latest offering contains many of the features that made ChiPs a household name. It has the high-speed motorbike chases as in the original. There are the same brown ‘ChiPs’ uniforms as well as the ‘tear drop’ aviators worn by all. Like the TV series this one also has the B, C, and D stories running throughout which always include romantic interests from the leads and incidental dramas for the supports. And of course, the biggest cross over similarities are the two main characters, Frank and Jon. Frank, the cooler and more ladies’ man renegade Latino and John Baker, the straight laced, ‘by the book’ cop who is motivated only by the job and the higher moral ground. He’s also the better bike rider of the two.

Jon still remains the nerd of the duo which I remember was a point of contention between the actor and the writers at the time. From memory, in real life, Larry Dee Wilcoxhe, the original Jon Baker, complained that Ponch got all of the fun lines and girls while he had to settle for the ‘boring guy’ scenarios. Well things even out a little here. Although still the nerd in the film, Jon’s role is definitely on an action par with his partner’s. This is possibly due to the fact that Dax Shepard who plays Jon, wrote and directed the film.

I personally had a lot of laughs and giggles. The movie often ventures down the politically incorrect alleyways and highways which could offend some viewers but probably not a lot because the jokes are always matched with plot objectives and implications.

The Verdict
If you were a fan of the original don’t go expecting a remake of the same thing. Those times when the personal lives of the Highway Patrol officers were used to role model decent law abiding behavior seem to have left us far behind.

This is exactly what it says it is, and action / comedy. A good laugh that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Predictably entertaining and predictably funny.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 30th March 2017
Rating: R16 – Contains Violence, offensive language & sexual material
Duration: 101 minutes 
Genre:  Action Comedy
Starring: Michael Peña, Dax Shepard, Jessica McNamee
Director: Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)

The Extras
After the trailer debuted, Erik Estrada, star of CHiPs (1977), the TV series on which this movie is based, retweeted a post on Twitter that blasted it as "pure trash". The Tweet was critical of the use of gunplay in the trailer, and also called the film "demeaning" to fans of the original show.

Interestingly, the characters in the trailer and presumably the movie proper are carrying guns and will fire them. Contrast to the show where they carried guns but never fired them once during the run of the show.

Wilmer Valderrama and Chris Evans were going to portray Ponch and Jon.

Dax Shepard and Kristin Bell are married with kids in real life.

Jason Ellis is one of the stunt men in the movie who gets punched by Dax. The two were talking and joking about it on the Jason Ellis show. Ellis stated he would be very upset if he waited around for hours only to have Dax pull his punches.