CHiPs is hilarious. I laughed myself silly from start to finish. Dax Shepard has breathed glorious life into the tired and stale buddy cop genre. This is no easy feat. Think of how many god awful movies and television shows have the buddy cop premise. It’s a wasteland of terrible. Not this time. As both writer and director, Shepard deserves the lion’s share of credit for pulling off this film. His co-star, Michael Pena, is absolutely fantastic. But Shepard needs to take the victory lap. Chips is tremendously entertaining, a much better film than expected.
Shepard stars as Jon Baker, a beat-up former motocross champion; earnestly trying to be an LA bike cop. He thinks it’ll win back his horrendous, soon to be ex-wife (Kirsten Bell). The government believes a rash of armored car robberies is being perpetrated by dirty cops. Michael Pena co-stars as a hard-charging, insanely sex-addicted FBI agent. He’s placed undercover by the feds as Frank Poncherello. Then teamed up secretly with the rookie Baker to infiltrate the California Highway Patrol.
Michael Pena can do no wrong in a movie. He plays every character perfectly. His turn here as the depraved pervert “Ponch” is comedy gold. The key to selling a ridiculous scene is to not overact. Pena and Shepard take turns playing the straight man in different situations. The pair has superb comic timing and chemistry. The audience was rolling from their hijinks.
Chips holds up as an action film. It’s loaded with big chases and gunplay. These types of scenes, much like the genre, can easily become trite. Shepard keeps everything fresh by infusing raucous humor. One of the better gags is Baker’s laughable aim. The character couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a tank shell. It’s refreshing to see a cop that isn’t dripping in firearm machismo. It’s also equally amusing when bad guys realize they’re in no danger of being shot. Clever stuff indeed. Shepard proves his mettle as a filmmaker.
The film gives a nod and wink to the classic seventies show. I’ve probably seen a handful of episodes, so have no real knowledge of it to draw a comparison. I’ve been told there wasn’t any gun violence in the show. This is obviously not the case here. Chips is a hard-R film. Loaded with expletives, nudity, violence, and lewd humor. It’s definitely a guy flick. There’s a lot of ogling and commentary about the female characters. Ponch’s wistful monologue about the beauty of yoga pants is a case in point.
Whether you go for the action or comedy, you’re in for a fun ride with both being successful. Dax Shepard and Michael Pena hit the bullseye. They are extremely likeable in this adaptation. So good together, I sincerely look forward to a sequel. I don’t have a clue how it holds up to the source material, but it certainly stands well on its own. From Warner Brothers, Chips is a guaranteed good time at the movies this weekend.