Another Hollywood remake that nobody asked for, this time comes to us from the mind of writer/director Dax Shepard. Based on the 1970s’ television series of the same name, CHiPs stars Shepard as Officer Jon Baker. Desperate to salvage his marriage, Baker joins the California Highway Patrol in hopes of delighting his wife Karen’s (Kristen Bell) Oedipus complex. On the other side of things is officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, (Michael Pena) who has gone undercover in the patrol to find out whose been pulling off a string of armored car robberies. However, as partners, they’ll have to work together to uncover the culprits, who just might be one of their own.
As far as unnecessary Hollywood remakes go, you could technically do a lot worse than how CHiPs turned out. There are definitely a few laughs to be had throughout the run, which is in large part because of the likable chemistry between leads Pena and Shepard. In stereotypical narrative fashion, they start out butting heads at the beginning, but slowly come together as good friends around the second half, which is about when the movie actually starts getting better. In all honesty, the majority of the film’s first half is a relatively messy, uninspired hodge-podge of cops butting heads and some of the feature’s weaker attempts at humor. However, when they come together and actually start getting things done, is when the film finds its groove.
It should also be noted that CHiPs does have some fun stunt work thrown about in the form of some enjoyable motorcycle chases, and even a few laughs stem from the slapstick of when something horrendous comes along to end these chases. In addition, the main villain is actually fairly more developed than the majority of Hollywood remake villains, as they actually give him a reason to be stealing all this money so he can help his heroin addicted son. Sure, at the end of the day it’s nothing to write home about, but at least there was a little effort put into making his character more, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as the main bad guy helps bolster him further.
Yet, while that may sound like praising this movie and calling a better example of the Hollywood remake, that couldn’t be further from the truth. CHiPs would be a relatively inoffensive R rated romp of nostalgia, if it weren’t for the blatant amount of sexism that exists in the story from beginning to end. Every woman in this feature is treated like a sex object in one way or another, and it’s doesn’t just happen once or twice, they go all out to make every female here a one-dimensional pair of breasts. With the character of Ponch suffering from sex addiction, basically every woman he runs into he has to stare at and admire their “California Booty.” Even Shepard’s own wife, Kristen Bell, had a character that was treated as little more than an unfaithful trophy wife, but what’s worse is she was basically one of the best examples of a more developed female the film had to offer. Shepard as a writer and director is probably capable of better material, so it seems like such a shame that he couldn’t cobble together anything better for his array of female characters.
Other than that, however, there’s nothing else that’s particularly bad about the CHiPs film, it’s just another unimaginative attempt for Hollywood to make some quick cash off nostalgia with some of the weakest women characters I’ve seen in a while. There’s certainly been worse out there, but that’s far from a recommendation. With Shepard being the proud father of two daughters, I would have hoped he’d try to create a better example for the next female generation, but CHiPs proves to be the opposite of such an assumption. If you’re a CHiPs die-had at heart and have been waiting for a feature film for years, this will probably please you just fine. Otherwise, you’re not missing much if you skip this one. In the end, while Michael Pena and Dax Shepard garner a few laughs with their chemistry, it isn’t enough to overcome a messy first half and blatant sexism.