Having never watched American TV series CHiPs I didn’t know what to expect from the movie CHiPs, written, directed and starring Dax Shepard as Jon Baker. The points that stood out to me were 1. Shepard and partner Kristen Bell (who also stars in the film as Jon’s estranged wife) have a lot of friends joining in, with more familiar faces appearing in this film than the Entourage film. 2. Shepard really loves his bikes.
Our story revolves around Ponch (Michael Peña) and Jon. Ponch who is working a developing case goes undercover and is garnered with a rookie California Highway Patrol officer to investigate further. Starting off somewhat awkwardly, the duo come to find they work well as a team (even in between all the continual blunders that had me thinking Inspector Clouseau would handle the situation better).
The stunts, particularly those on the motorbikes, were done well. The part we particularly enjoyed was the scene where Jon and Ponch are interviewing Joy Jackson (Merrin Dungey) and they end up in a full on living room brawl. Admittedly, the images on the screen before us reminded us of scenes from Kath & Kim, particularly the over the top reaction Joy had to the brawl.
Noticeably there were a bevy of familiar faces on screen. Actors and comedians who’ve worked with Shepard and Bell. Maya Rudolph, Ryan Hansen, Ben Falcone, Jane Kaczmarek, Rosa Salazar, Mara Marini, Adam Rodriguez, Justin Chatwin, Mae Whitman, Richard T. Jones and Carly Hatter. The two surprises came in the form of Vincent D’Onofrio as the managing villain and Australian actress Jessica McNamee as a California Highway Patrol officer.
There were moments such as the dick jokes and references to homophobic behaviour that definitely had the audience divided. At times the filming also seemed to distract from the scene, particularly the close up shots, and some parts where the camera became incredibly shaky.
I liked the dynamic between Ponch and Jon, and it could have been explored more, and perhaps Ponch’s history could have been reflected on further, with less emphasis on his sexual behaviour. The dinner table scene, for example, was a favourite. Where Ponch is talking about Jon’s ex and makes an accurate deduction from the overall situation. For that matter, the observations made throughout the film, the more psychological observations added a bit of depth to the characters. Like Jon picking up on certain details when working the case.
I have to say, I heard way more laughter in the cinema watching this film, than I have with any other film over the past few years. Actual guttural laughter.