Blu-ray Review: CHiPS (2017)

By , Contributor
However low your expectations may be for the big-screen adaptation of CHiPS (now available for the small screen via Warner Home Entertainment), set that bar even lower. Blame the success of 21 Jump Street and its sequel, at least in part, for the habitual rebooting of pop culture relics that didn't really need it. For every clever, funny Jump Street or The Brady Bunch Movie, there's a pile of junk like CHiPS that seems to exist simply to prove that most kitsch classics don't need updating.

Dax Shepard (Punk'd, Parenthood) wrote and directed CHiPS. He also stars as Officer Jon Baker (played by Larry Wilcox in the original TV series). Michael Peña co-stars as Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello (Erik Estrada in the original series, who turns up for a cameo here). Much of the bromance humor borders on squirm-inducing homophobia. And unfortunately, that's about all CHiPS is interested in. Ponch and Jon are, of course, partnered and quickly fall into an all-too-familiar odd couple routine.

Former extreme cyclist Jon is essentially the straight man, with always-horny Ponch the comic cut-up. There’s a story—something about a dirty cop that Ponch (who—spoiler alert!—is actually an undercover FBI agent) is working to uncover. But the plot mechanics grind along laboriously for one reason: to provide a basic framework to support sophomoric gags. 
 
rsz_chips_1.jpg Vincent D'Onofrio heads up the bad cops Ponch is after. Kristen Bell drops in as Jon's wife. Bell is Shepard's real-life wife. The brevity of her appearance here suggests it was done as a favor to hubby. Surely with her recent high-profile Disney voice work (Frozen, Zootopia) and Bad Moms franchise (A Bad Moms Christmas is due this holiday season), Bell has bigger fish to fry than this. Other notable pop-ins include Maya Rudolph, David Koechner, and Ed Begley Jr. But despite the presence of comedic talent, nothing really worth laughing about happens. Shepard seems unclear on what he wanted CHiPS to be. In the end, much like this year's other TV-adaptation bust Baywatch, he resorts to action sequences that are less exciting than anything found in the source material.

CHiPS bonus features: "This Is Not Your Fathers CHiPS" (nine minute featurette), deleted scenes (15 minutes), "Ducati: The Perfect Bike" (five minute featurette; seems like riding the motorcycle was Shepard's primary reason for making the film), "Practical Pursuit" (nine minute featurette focuses on the film's many action stunts).

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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