I have a strangely warm-hearted nostalgic recollection of the cheesy 80s motorcycle cop show CHiPs - enough that I ventured into the cinema to watch the ill-reviewed big screen remake starring writer-director Dax Shepard as rookie cop John Baker and Michael Pena as his partner Ponch. I was expecting a knowing but essentially light-hearted and funny post-modern take on the TV show, in the same vein as the recent 21 JUMP STREET film. But by contrast, CHiPs felt underwritten, crude, and just not as clever. Worse still, Shepard and Pena are fine on screen together, but they certainly don't have the natural chemistry of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.
So in this version Ponch is the cover name for an FBI agent from Florida who is sent to investigate corruption in the California Highway Patrol that gives the movie its acronym-title. He's meant to be a sex addict (how funny!) and not that good on a motorbike and is grieving his dead partner. Ponch is teamed up with middle-aged ex pro biker Baker (Shepard) whose body is so messed up from biker accidents he can barely walk, and who's becoming a cop to win back his bitchy ex-wife (played by Shepard's real wife Kristen Bell).
The humour is broad and crude and often misses the mark but on the handful of occasions it works this really is a laugh out loud funny movie. It's also surprisingly violent, in a kind of weirdly arbitrary way - and ventures into social commentary territory that it should probably leave well alone. Still, there are worse films out there.
CHIPS has a running time of 100 minutes and is rated R. The movie is on global release everywhere except Australia, where it opens on April 6th; Germany where it opens on April 20th; Brazil where it opens on May 4th; and Cambodia, where it opens on August 11th.
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