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1/9/18

CHIPS - REVIEW


Along with Baywatch, another dated TV series that got the movie remake treatment in 2017 was CHiPs, starring Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as two California Highway Patrol cops who take on a mysterious gang of thieves and corrupt police officers.

When FBI Agent Castillo (Peña) is sent undercover to help solve the aforementioned case, he finds that getting along with his partner Jon Baker (Shepard) might prove to be the real challenge. The latter is a down-and-out ex-motocross champion with a crumbling marriage and metal plates keeping most of his limbs in place and Castillo is a playboy with little patience so they obviously can't stand each other initially but eventually learn to work together and make a great team. This is pretty standard cop story stuff complete with the obligatory yelling chief, epic car chases and obvious bad guys so don't expect anything ground-breaking or completely unpredictable. The film was universally trashed by critics who seemed to be disappointed it wasn't as good as the 21 Jump Street movies and, indeed, CHiPs fails to capture the same level of goofy fun those films delivered. This is mostly due to the two miscast leads who never really convince individually or together, thereby creating a rather awkward dynamic that constantly distracts from the potentially amusing set pieces.

Fans of the original series will find a few references here and there but this is another rather loose adaptation, though it's somewhat more faithful than the frankly shameless Baywatch. Unfortunately, CHiPs does suffer from similar issues like far too many dumb dick jokes and improv bits that make certain scenes drag for no reason. Without all that and with better-suited leads, this could have easily been another A-Team: a forgettable yet charming and well made little reboot that captured the spirit of the original show without resorting to "bro humour". While CHiPs fails to impress, it achieves borderline watchability perfectly well and really feels like one of those movies that pops up on television very late at night without warning and just about gets the job done. What it lacks in charm, the film makes up for in mindless but well orchestrated stunts and good old-fashioned cop movie clichés. The jokes are very hit-and-miss and the story lacks any surprises but the cast, which includes Kristen Bell, Vincent D'Onofrio and Maya Rudolph, keeps things afloat... mostly.

CHiPs' criticisms may have been legitimate but to call it one of the worst films of 2017 is going a bit far. This is an unpretentious, trashy cop comedy that works fine as something on the level of a lesser Police Academy sequel: it's silly, it's dumb and doesn't need to exist but it has its moments.

Passable.     

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