Revival films of obscure ’80s TV series have become Hollywood’s source of profit ever since the astounding arrival of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller’s Jump Street movies that saw the source material turning into a refreshment which reinvigorated the series’ namesake. Apparently, someone was inspired to follow their footsteps, and that someone is Dax Shepard – an actor from the 2000s who had starred in numerous non-prolific, low-brow comedies; most of which have been slammed by critics.
What he brings next in line to his filmography is CHiPS, a buddy-comedy based on yet another forgotten 80s show that hops on board the wagon that the Jump Street film series has built. Hammering itself with an R-rating just to please those it wants to appeal to, CHiPS is bombarded with penis jokes, sexual humor, cussing, and bloody violence – all of which actually serves no redeeming purpose as its tugging of the comedy from all that results to a mostly boring, cliched hour and a half-long unoriginal take on an extremely recognizable beat bearing absolutely nothing new to re-energize.
For the film’s first hour, what it does best is annoy us, and make us want to run to the exit as quickly as possible. There are numerous factors as to why it wants us to make that happen, and the fingers could be pointed to its desperation that seeks to make us laugh without making a fool out of ourselves. As a viewer though, our foolishness isn’t made vulnerable by its cheap gags – a huge sum of them are barely even laughable, and most of them feel as if they were written enthusiastically by some eighth-grader who claps at his own jokes. Some of them come through though, but still, not a lot of merit could be gained from those. Inventiveness is definitely not a key that it has gained access to, and it shows in its story that is easily predictable.
You could just simply point out every plot point, and feel like a true psychic the moment they come along – initiating a game that might just be better and more exciting than the film you’re watching. To give it some credit though that it actually deserves, there are some interesting and quite mature narrative threads that aren’t fully seamed. Witnessing them getting burned out by overt cheesiness is quite distasteful, most notably when it is noticeable that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Ray Kurtz, the antagonist of the film, stresses out his efforts to make this romp look better than it actually seems. It makes the Full Metal Jacket actor look shoehorned right in as he brings out some dramatic tension between Pena and Shepard’s characters against his, but all of that really means nothing when the film doesn’t really care about the things that would make it better even by a few notches.
Michael Pena being entertaining and Dax Shepard being someone you’d very much like to punch if ever you were to meet him somewhere are two memorable things that you’d take home from the film. One good, the other bad, the hijinks-fueled memories that it creates fade quickly the night you wake up after watching it. You barely remember anything, and that squeezes right into a positive context. Sitting beside these two is an experience that isn’t needed, but nonetheless, is a bit of a pleasure to indulge into when all of that guilt is dissolved by its awareness of its ridiculous cheesiness that bulges near the tail end.
• CHiPS is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Warner Bros. Pictures. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.