Director: Dax Shepard
Cast: Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Vincent D’Onofrio
Release Date: June 27, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 5.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
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 former 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 the hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kick-starting a real partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker’s unique bike skills and Ponch’s street savvy it might just work…if they don’t drive each other crazy first.
Based on the classic TV Series of the same name (at least in general concept) Dax Shepard’s new take on ‘CHiPs’ introduces us to former stunt superstar and newcomer to the California Highway Patrol Jon (Shepard), a mediocre candidate at best who ends up with quite the mess to juggle when he’s given an undercover FBI agent going by Ponch (Peña) as a partner who has been sent in to investigate a collection of corrupt cops believed to be within. As rookie Jon and determined Ponch continue to clash on what they believe their duty to be, the duo ends up causing a raucous around each turn and these unlikely partners soon find themselves forced to work together if they stand any chance of taking down these corrupt cops, let alone surviving the investigation.
Written and directed by (as well as starring) Dax Shepard (Hit and Run), Shepard does a capable job at the helm of ‘CHiPs’ guiding his own script (and himself) along smoothly, although even while delivering fun and amusing moments quite consistently still fails to ever achieve anything much more than mediocre in the larger scope. Fortunately the fun and laughs are also complimented by a pretty solid cast including a number of recognizable folks in addition to Shepard, including Michael Peña (The Martian), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World), Rosa Salazar (Insurgent), Jessica McNamee (The Loved Ones), Adam Brody (Cop Out), Ryan Hansen (Central Intelligence) and Richard T. Jones (Event Horizon) along with more, nearly all delivering fitting performances in each of their respective roles and therefore helping to keep things continually fun throughout.
This reimagining of ‘CHiPs’ is certainly an entirely different ‘CHiPs’ than the famous series many grew up with, forgoing more of the crime and mystery elements in order to make room for raunchy jokes and goofiness galore. While this new envisioning of ‘CHiPs’ works to some degree and certainly provides quite the fun and humorous ride throughout, it just feels continually bland, even while the jokes attain some laughs in the moment, the majority of them tend to be forgotten a moment later with few really hitting home in any notable way (the banter and one liners between our leads about Ponch’s extended bathroom visits are probably the best of the bunch). Albeit nothing truly special or noteworthy, it’s also not nearly as terrible as many would lead you to believe, and anyone who enjoys this type of comedy (with a touch of goofy action) will likely still have an enjoyable time with ‘CHiPs’ from start to finish. Written, directed by and starring Dax Shepard who does a solid job guiding the flick along and his and Pena’s portrayals of the lead duo may not be exceptional but they never fail to keep things moving along either. Nonetheless, once the chase sequences and goofy action and humor that never really reach the point of memorable continue to flood in, one can’t help be somewhat disappointed by this fairly lackluster film, especially knowing that Shepard is capable of so much more as a filmmaker (his previous writing and directing effort ‘Hit and Run’ was something truly special and at least a few moments here can’t help but remind us of some unforgettable moments and jokes that seemed to work far better there). Fans of similar raunchy comedy flicks and anyone curious about this new adaption of the old series, as well as fellow fans of Shepard’s work in general will all probably want to try and check this one out at some point. It may not be a movie you’ll want to drop the funds on for a blind purchase, but it’s a silly and thoroughly entertaining ride at the very least that’s certainly worth a watch when you have the chance.
Overall, this new take on the classic television series ‘CHiPs’ from filmmaker (and star) Dax Shepard embraces an entirely different tone and approach to the material. It swaps out the crime and drama aspects (at least for the most part) for a brimming collection of raunchy jokes and gag moments, clearly defining itself as a comedy first and foremost. While the film certainly offers an entertaining and quite funny ride from start to finish, it never really excels above mediocre and even while an undeniably fun flick, it’s a definite step down from Shepard’s last effort behind the camera, the wonderful ‘Hit and Run’. I wouldn’t urge most folks to go out of their way in order to check this one out, but for those who enjoy similarly themed (or toned) comedy films and for fellow fans of Shepard’s work behind the camera I would suggest at least attempting to give it a watch when you can, even if it’s via your favorite premium channel or streaming provider once it becomes available.
The Blu-ray release of ‘CHiPs’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing a 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks quite wonderful as a whole and delivers a crisp, clean and warmly colored presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the many fast moving and/or action oriented sequences, never allowing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that’s complimented by a more than adequate bitrate and should have no trouble pleasing the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, crisp and often fairly aggressive audio presentation throughout. It regularly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send the music, along with vehicle activity, bullets, crowd activity and more throughout the various speakers when fitting, and never causing any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a solid and enjoyable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that compliments the film splendidly and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘CHiPs’ includes a few enjoyable extras, all of which are hosted by the film’s writer/director/star Dax Shepard. Included on the release is a collection of ‘Deleted Scenes with optional Intros by Shepard’ (running approximately 15 minutes in total with the intros included and approximately 10 minutes without). We are also treated to a few behind the scenes Featurettes that explore different aspects of bringing the film to life and include behind the scenes footage and more, the included Featurettes are: ‘This Is Not Your Dad’s CHiPs’ (running approximately 9 minutes), ‘Practical Pursuit’ (approximately 9 minutes) and ‘Ducati: The Perfect Bike’ (5 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 5.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
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