FILM REVIEW | Chips

Failed chemistry: Michael Pena and Dax Shepard play Baker and Ponch in the unsatisfying big screen reboot of Chips, in cinemas now, rated MA15+.
Failed chemistry: Michael Pena and Dax Shepard play Baker and Ponch in the unsatisfying big screen reboot of Chips, in cinemas now, rated MA15+.

Reviving classic TV shows as big screen comedies has been a successful endeavour for years now.

From Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard to 21 Jump Street to the upcoming Baywatch movie, TV nostalgia is a big thing.

In the case of 21 Jump Street, it worked an absolute treat and raked in millions upon millions or dollars.

Its self-awareness and hilarious humour, paired with the undeniable comic chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, made the 2012 film a winner.

Chips, it seems, has tried its very hardest to recreate the magic of Jump Street, but has fallen disastrously short.

Based on the 1970s cop show of the same name, Chips follows two officers in the California Highway Patrol – Jon Baker (writer-director Dax Shepard) and Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Michael Pena).

Baker is a former extreme Motocross rider with scars aplenty and Ponch is an undercover FBI agent, tasked with weeding out dirty cops involved in an armored vehicle heist on the highway.

The cast is littered with familiar faces, especially to audience members familiar with Shepard and wife Kristen Bell’s past work.

The supporting cast includes Adam Brody, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aussie Jessica McNamee (Packed to the Rafters), Ryan Hansen, Justin Chatwin, Maya Rudolph, Josh Duhamel, Jane Kaczmarek, Ben Falcone, Rosa Salazar and Adam Rodriguez.

While Chips has moments of genuine hilarity and some great running gags there are far too many stupid, flat and outright offensive jokes to save it. Right off the bat the film reverts to a 1970s mentality of objectifying women – which no one finds funny.

It tries desperately to establish an easy back-and-forth between the two leads, but Shepard just isn’t up to scratch as a leading man – he’s a fabulous support player but just can’t carry the weight of the whole film.

Pena on the other hand has proven once again that he should be far more successful and well-known than he is. He drips charisma and has fantastic comic timing – if only they were utilised in a more deserving lead role.

Chips cannot decide whether it wants to deal in slapstick, frat boy or self-aware humour, trying bits of all three and missing the mark on each.

This story Cop comedy misses mark first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.

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