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‘CHIPS’ movie goes hog wild with raunch, cheap humor

Michael Pena and Dax Shepard in "CHIPS." | Peter Iovino/Warner Bros. Entertainment

While this is only one of many former TV shows rebooted for the big screen, it could be argued that “CHIPS,” the R-rated film based on the popular police series from the 1970s and ’80s is the raunchiest and, in many ways, most offensive redo to date.

I cannot stress strongly enough that the R rating on this movie should be taken seriously by parents and other adults responsible for monitoring children’s film viewing. Along with strong, often graphic violence (including a gratuitous beheading), the strong language (with the s- and f-words in constant use) and the really crude sex jokes are not only repugnant, but not even funny.

This is an unfortunate mishmash of a film, that feels, as the storyline unfolds, as thought it was developed, written and filmed on the run. Subplots go off in silly directions and don’t add anything to the overall plot. Case in point: Vincent D’Onofrio’s desperate struggle to save his heroin-addicted son from himself — a plot feature that merely showcased the waste of a talented actor in this movie.

On the surface, “CHIPS” — written by, directed by and starring Dax Shepard — is an action comedy about a mismatched pair of California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers. Shepard’s Jon Baker is a very self-absorbed rookie cop, who has turned to joining the CHiPs unit as both a way to regain his estranged, awful wife’s respect and regain his own pride. He previously had been a huge professional motocross star, sidelined by a series of injuries and other mishaps.

Baker is partnered with Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (played by Michael Pena), a tough FBI agent who has gone undercover to discover crooked culprits operating inside the CHiPs unit.

As the story unfolds, there are no surprises and things proceed they often do in “buddy” films — where the main protagonists start out as having nothing in common.

While I clearly cannot recommend this film, I have to admit there were a couple of amusing moments. In one favorite, the completely unqualified CHiPs candidate Baker undergoes his final job interview with a top officer, played with hilarious understatement by Maya Rudolph. It is one of the very few perfectly written scenes in this mostly disappointing effort.

Another fun bit, which I won’t reveal, will bring a smile to fans of the original TV series. But those moments are just not enough to make this worthwhile.


Warner Bros. presents a film written and directed by Dax Shepard. Rated R (for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use). Running time: 101 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.