CHiPs: A Comedic Failure

By Guuto Dolal

Chips is a comedic remake of the dramatic television series of the same name, which aired from 1977 to 1983. Dax Shepard takes on the roles of writer, director and star of this production and enlists Michael Pena as his partner. A film like Chips isn’t expected to be groundbreaking, but something which garners some quick laughs from an audience. However, the movie barely achieves even that, as it’s incredibly formulaic, predictable, and full of glaring plot holes.

A major issue with this film is its lack of focus. There are multiple confusing and convoluted subplots that distract the viewer from the main story, not that there is much to distract from—the main plot is a formulaic buddy cop movie everyone has seen dozens of times.  With so many plotlines to follow, it’s difficult to establish the relationship between the two leads. The chemistry between Shepard and Pena is evident but the poorly written script doesn’t allow them to reach their full comedic potential. Shepard has multiple opportunities to create incredibly funny scenes but each time, he chooses the cruder route instead.  Careless writing makes this movie massively predictable.

The CGI in this project is difficult to watch at times; there are some scenes where the effects resemble dated PlayStation games. A few set pieces are somewhat enjoyable but multiple fast cuts make it challenging to know what is actually going on. Some action scenes felt unnecessary to the film as they lasted almost 10 minutes and added nothing to the plot. All this is overshadowed by the massively over the top climax that had audience members laughing for all the wrong reasons.

Michael Pena’s prior role in the great cop film End of Watch inspired confidence that he would carry over some of the policing skills he acquired working on that film, but his performance was disappointing. The delivery of his dialogue was emotionless, giving his character a robotic feel. The antagonist, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, was by far the biggest disappointment. The character’s motivations were one of the few intriguing ideas in the film, but Shepard abandons these ideas half way through. With no motivation, D’Onofrio’s character comes off as the most clichéd action villain seen in some time. His acting made it seem like he didn’t care about this project.

In short, Chips seems like a poorly written cash grab. Dax Shepard continually held this film back with poor directing, and it might have benefited had he remained in front of the camera. The chemistry between Shepard and Pena radiates off the screen, but lacklustre comedy and badly written dialogue cause their conversations to feel wooden. The jokes fall flat because they lack originality and creativity.  Watch this film with your friends on Netflix one day, since it might make you laugh at just how bad it really is.

Grade: D-

(Featured Image: CHiPs, Warner Bros. Pictures)

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