A rookie officer is teamed with a hardened pro at the California Highway Patrol, though the newbie soon learns his partner is really an undercover Fed investigating a heist that may involve some crooked cops.
An FBI agent goes undercover in the California Highway Patrol as officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello. Members of the CHP have been robbing cash delivery vehicles and his job is to uncover the perpetrators. At the CHP he is partnered with a 30-something rookie, Jon Baker. Baker is a former professional motorcycle rider with a list of ailments and personal problems who is lucky to be in the CHP. They are very different people and immediately clash.Written by
Theme music from the TV show S.W.A.T. plays when the S.W.A.T. vehicle makes an appearance. See more »
When Ponch is first shown in the car in front of the bank, his hat is tipped to the right at a very "jaunty" angle, several inches above his left ear. In the next shot a moment later, it's pulled much further down and the angle is nearly horizontal, it's less than an inch above his left ear. See more »
Remember 21 Jump Street (2012)? Boy that was a fun movie. In many ways it was the perfect meta-commentary of the type of low-stakes, low-rent, low-brow crap Hollywood has been throwing at us recently like chimps in a mismanaged zoo. Literally anything and I mean anything with even a modicum of franchise potential is being made and remade and remade again these days. Thus when 21 Jump Street (based on a soapy cheap-looking TV show) reared its ugly head, I for one was clenching for an awful night at the cinema.
In many ways I was expecting something like Chips, i.e. an ill-conceived, aged and offensive grotesquery that at best is a watered down version of literally everything you've already seen. Remember all those completely forgetful Martin Lawrence clones that were hammered out one-by-one in the early 2000's? Me neither; how about those equally forgettable Kevin Hart movies? Okay, getting warmer. Well imagine that plus a big fat layer of tepid, lazy direction and you got the basic ingredients for what should honestly be renamed "Bullchips." Chips was directed, written and stars Dax Shepard who you may remember as the dude in Without a Paddle (2004) who was not Matthew Lillard or Seth Green. Here he plays Jon Baker, an over-the-hill Motocross athlete who, according to co-star Michael Pena, is "always two-beers too familiar." He's the typical California "dude" who's far too self-involved to notice he's a walking, talking stereotype. Or at least he is until the script asks him not to be.
Speaking of stereotypes, Michael Pena takes the place of the rambunctious Erik Estrada as Poncherello. In this universe he's an undercover FBI Agent searching for dirty cops, stolen loot and California dimes willing to give it up to the "Ponch". While it's easy to say Pena is the best part of this movie; saying that would be like complimenting the only cylinder firing on a broken motor.
Chips is based off the famed 1970's TV show which ran from 1977 until 1983. As you would expect from something that hasn't been figuratively opened since the 70's, this film is a festering gob of unrecognizable gunk. The police procedural portions of the film are rote and redundant while the duo-building moments of banter reek, of awkwardness and fragile male egoisms that haven't been funny since the Reagan Administration. Yet there they are, on the screen just begging audiences to laugh as Baker and Ponch discuss at length the preference and frequency of night-long a**-licking.
Aside from the film's boorish leads, Chips has a hard time communicating who or what we should actually care about. The audience is made aware of who our bad guys are long before our leads do, yet the film goes through so many airless, dimensionless minutes trying to coax our heroes in the right direction. Then the film goes into fruitless avenues to play out juvenile bits for the sake of little or no information pertinent to the story. Then, to add insult to injury they flip through a Highway Patrol database and randomly point to their bad guy because of nothing more than a mean look.
It gets worse. Shepard's Baker for example takes a lot in stride – His wife's obvious infidelity, his advanced age, Ponch's bathroom habits etc. He takes it all in stride with the exception of his work which he takes on with the vigor of a newly endowed meter maid. It's supposed to be a reoccurring joke yet because the movie is so shoddily edited there are so many, either setups that are never executed or comedic payoffs that seem to come out of nowhere. Then they simply drop it in favor of Ponch's romance, I guess with a fellow officer (Bock)? Through all the mired, half-realized nonsense, only one thing remains clear – Chips was trying, trying to follow the exact same playbook as 21 Jump Street. Yet while 21 Jump had the rare quality of being reliably absurd and self-referential, this thing is just a vulgar, incompetent mess with little worthwhile to say other than "watch out for yoga pants!"
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