'CHIPS': Goofy comedy gone awry (Review By Troy Ribeiro ; Rating: *1/2 )
"CHIPS" is a shoddily mounted, randy, action-oriented, buddy cop film.
It is about two individuals who join the California Highway Patrol Academy - Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) a former motor cycle rider dealing with a failed marriage and Frank Ponch, (Michael Pena) a sex-obsessed, Miami FBI agent. How they both go to Los Angeles to investigate a multi-million dollar robbery that appears to have been an inside job and gradually bond after moments of initial discord, forms the crux of this film.
Touted to be an action comedy, and packed with impulsive situations, the film is replete with sexual undertones and explicit homophobia connotations which are peppered at regular intervals in the film in an attempt to inject humour and are largely uncalled for.
The chemistry and camaraderie that is intrinsic to a film like this, is sadly lacking. Leaning heavily on goofy comedy tropes, the film fails to fit into any genre completely, appearing to be a poorly made mish-mash.
There is a feeling of déjà vu in most of the action and comedy sequences as these seem to be lifted from the 1980s. There is no element of freshness in the story or treatment. The action scenes too although well executed, fail to be thrilling while the attempts at comedy seem rusty.
The plot is clichéd, built around a convoluted, inside job heist. It is simply the context and the forced setting to put these two guys together and watch them become buddies. As a director, Shepard fails to handle the subject efficiently and the resultant film fails to impress or even entertain.
On the performance front, Dax Shepard, the director and actor essays his character with honesty while Michael Pena is convincing. But their on-screen chemistry lacks depth. It is the script which limits them.
Vincent D'Onofrio as the antagonist, is perfunctory and he fails to impress. The ladies in prominent roles are all stock characters.
With moderate production values, the film is a big let-down and makes for tedious viewing.
Dax Shepard ('Hit and Run,' TV's 'Parenthood') and Michael Peña ('The Martian') star in the action comedy 'CHIPS.' Shepard also directs from a script he penned based on the characters from the popular ‘70s television series created by Rick Rosner.
Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello (Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten up pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover Federal agent investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside job—inside the CHP.
The inexperienced rookie and hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kickstarting a partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker's bike skills combined with Ponch's street savvy it might just work…if they don't drive each other crazy along the way.
Also starring are Rosa Salazar ('Insurgent'), Adam Brody ('Think Like a Man Too'), Kristen Bell ('Veronica Mars'), and Vincent D'Onofrio ('Jurassic World').
'CHIPS' is produced by Andrew Panay ('Earth to Echo,' 'Wedding Crashers'), who produced Shepard's directorial debut 'Hit and Run,' and Ravi Mehta ('Get Hard'). The executive producers are Robert J. Dohrmann, Nate Tuck, Rick Rosner, Michael Peña, and Dax Shepard.
Collaborating with Shepard behind the scenes are cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen ('Now You See Me'), production designer Maher Ahmad ('Get Hard'), editor Dan Lebental ('Ant-Man') and costume designer Diane Crooke (TV's 'Parenthood'). The music is composed by Fil Eisler.
Opening in theaters March 24, 2017, 'CHIPS' is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, an Andrew Panay Production, and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.
This film has been rated R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.