Susan Granger’s review of “CHiPs” (Warner Bros.)
This raunchy, lame-brained reboot of the NBC-TV show begins with the disclaimer: “The California Highway Patrol does not endorse this film. At all.”
Writer/director/actor Dax Shepard stars as Jon Baker, a battered, former motocross hotshot who tries to save his faltering marriage by joining the Highway Patrol.
When painkiller-popping Baker is partnered with a recent transfer officer, Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Michael Pena), he has no idea that Ponch is actually an FBI agent whose real name is Castillo. He’s been dispatched from Miami to go undercover to investigate a multimillion-dollar robbery.
It seems there are some corrupt cops, led by Kurtz (Vincent D’Onofrio), hijacking armored cars. Apprehending them involves the guys on wide-bodied Ducati bikes engaging in lots of high-velocity vehicular chases on the Los Angeles freeways. (Around 150 stunt performers are listed in the credits.)
In my recollection, the TV version (1977-1983) of “CHiPs” was campy/cheesy, yet wholesome, featuring cool cats in mirrored sunglasses who, week-after-week, caught crooks in sunny Southern California.
In this lewd, crude, R-rated incarnation, there’s a great deal of gay panic. The most prevalent homophobic gag involves buff, exhibitionistic Baker, stripped down to his tighty whities, impishly taunting obviously uncomfortable Ponch.
Insofar as females are concerned, they’re simply sex objects and, as such, subjected to disparaging remarks. Apparently, Ponch cannot view an attractive woman in yoga pants without needing to masturbate. And it doesn’t help the feminist cause to have a sexually insatiable supervisor (Jane Kaczmarek).
For series devotees, Erik Estrada, the original Ponch, does a cameo. And Kristen Bell, Shepard’s real-life wife, plays his estranged, on-screen spouse.
FYI: President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is one of the Executive Producers. Make of that what you will.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “CHiPs” is a tasteless, testosterone-fueled 3. How many ways can I say ‘un-funny’ and ‘stupid’?