Friday, March 24, 2017

Movie Review: "CHIPS" (2017)

Director: Dax Shepard
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
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An FBI agent is placed undercover and is partnered with a rookie CHP officer in order to expose and arrest some dirty cops working on the force. 

"CHIPS" is a feature film comedy adaptation of the 1970's & 80's television crime drama "CHiPs." It is written and directed by Dax Shepard, who also stars in the film as Jon Baker, a former X-Games dirt-bike rider-turned-CHP rookie. Joining him is Michael Peña, an FBI agent who has been assigned to work undercover under the pseudonym Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, in order to investigate an armored car robbery and to discover the identities of several dirty, corrupt cops inside the CHP. Also in the film are Vincent D'Onofrio, Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen, Adam Brody, Jessica McNamee, Isiah Whitlock Jr, and Rosa Salazar.

Did anyone really want to see a theatrical adaptation of the television show "CHiPs?" Was Dax Shepard just sitting at home one evening, clearly stoned while watching TV Land, thinking to himself, "it would be a great idea to adapt this 30+ year old cop drama into a feature length comedy in the year 2017!" Maybe he was trying to capture the success others have recently found with the likes of the "21 Jump Street" movies, which found a new audience several decades later in two hilarious feature length films filled with outrageous comedy and fantastic chemistry between characters. Unfortunately, Shepard's version of "CHIPS" doesn't have either of those things to go along with the already established name, and this movie doesn't even reach the level of the "Starsky & Hutch" adaptation.

One thing we get from this movie is an understanding of what type of humor Dax Shepard finds funny, and apparently, we don't completely share the same sense of humor. Most of the jokes here consist of Michael Peña's Ponch being uncomfortable with anything appearing even slightly gay, gags about his very active sex life including his implied chronic masturbation, and a running joke about the new age joys of eating out buttholes in the Tinder era. Shepard's Baker spends most his time doing prat falls due to his character's excessive surgery history and lingering injuries as an X-Games competitor, his being completely oblivious to his wife's infidelity and her all around asshole attitude, and his constant need to play amateur psychologist about everything and anything since he's had a year's worth of therapy. To top it all off, Shepard and Peña only have mediocre chemistry and the rest of the characters are either extremely basic, like McNamee's officer Lindsey Taylor, or are over-the-top cartoon-like characters, like D'Onofrio's Vic Brown.

The narrative isn't natural at all as everything is completely contrived, not that we always watch comedies for well thought out plots, but this one barely holds it together on a surface level. Plot points are started and never come to fruition, and others end without so much as a semblance of closure. But look! An explosion! Oh look! A poop joke! That makes it fine! This film also has moments where the tonal shifts are completely jarring as it seems to want to be a comedy, but plays it a little too serious at times as well. The pseudo-psychology mumbo-jumbo Baker spews ad nauseum attempts to take the film in directions it has no business going since this is essentially one, giant, elongated phallic joke.

Luckily, "CHIPS"' isn't entirely devoid of humor. We did laugh a few times, mostly at the over-the-top violence where characters get decapitated or have other body parts blown off and the subsequent shenanigans that follow. Overall though, the laughs are few and far between, which we hate to say because generally, we like this cast, and it sucks to see them get stuck with such a sub-par comedic offering. However, the lady sitting in front of us started laughing uncontrollably about midway through the movie every time Dax Shepard fell down, and this continued for the rest of its run time. It probably helped that she was downing an entire bottle of wine and an extra glass of beer to go along with it, which is what we assume it'll take for the average viewer to enjoy this movie even slightly.

My Rating: 2.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 2.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~24%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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