Film Review: OMG CHiPs Is The Funniest Movie of 2017… So Far
Based off the television series of the same name, CHiPs is one of the funniest action-comedy buddy cop films in years. It was tempting to call it the best since Hot Fuzz, but Let’s Be Cops deserves to be mentioned when discussing that genre. CHiPs was written and directed by Dax Shepard. There is much praise to be given to his interpretation of this remade show from the 1970’s. Shepard made a 101 minute buddy cop film that is paced well, hilarious, and established characters we connect with and can’t wait to see again. CHiPs is Bad Boys II good, yeah, you read that right.
Now then, back to the hilarious new tale of California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Pena). Both characters are introduced and Shepard does a great job showing the difference in the lives each lead. Ponch is a hotshot FBI agent, and Baker is a failed BMXer who’s training to be a highway patrolman. The friction between the two initially does a great job of showing that pals or not, there is a great chemistry between them. It is just as enjoyable seeing the harsh introductions, and it is to watch the bromance that develops.
Jon Baker’s character is the most endearing performance Dax Shepard has taken on (in a comedy) thus far. The audience is genuinely able to sympathize, physically and psychologically, for Baker given the rough cards he’s been dealt. Essentially, Baker is a failed BMX rider who is trying to win back his wife Karen’s (Kristen Bell), and believes he can do that by becoming a cop. Most of the characters he interacts with aren’t empathetic and have a “suck it up” attitude toward him. It’s great to see Shepard play a character that is more than snappy remarks. Baker has been through a lot of therapy, and on an occasion or two, drops some deep gems.
Ponch is nothing like the sensitive, love-starved, Jon Baker. Women, his work, and women in yoga pants are what he cares about. After losing a partner years back, he’s become more of a loner and has a tendency to shoot his partner. This is classic Pena, he’s hilarious even when trashing Baker for trying to get his life together. Pena made this role look like so much fun, and if a tally of laughs were to be had, he edged out the competition.
Great supporting cast really makes CHiPs come alive. Sure, Baker and Ponch would be enough for most comedy fans to get their money’s worth but everyone really stepped it up. Ray Kurtz (Vincent D’ Onofrio) was not funny, his physical presence is scary in a gym scene. We all loved Isiah Whitlock Jr. in the Wire, and as Peterson he cracks us up line after line. Adam Brody manages to sneak in some huge laughs as Clay Allen, and Rosa Salazar is polarizing when onscreen. Deserving mentions as well for big laughs with little screen time are Sgt. Gail Hernandez (Maya Rudolph) and Jane Lindel (Jane Kaczmarek).
The action in CHiPs is what we’ve become accustomed to in modern comedies. One moment the audience is laughing and the next graphic violence comes out of left field. Explosions were not in short supply, and at some point the amount of explosions is hilarious. The cracking we hear from Jon Baker’s body is heavy throughout the film, and kudos to Shepard for being able to use a simple sound effect to elicit different responses. At first the crack brings sympathy, later it brings laughter, and in moments of heightened tension it accompanies fear or concern. Camera angles during chases, scene transitions and moments where laughs follow without lines are all testament to Shepard’s ability.
The writing was so much better than anyone would expect. This buddy cop action comedy has character development that audiences are accustomed to from dramas. No, CHiPs isn’t perfect, but it is the funniest comedy released this year. Yes, it’s still March. Cameos, nudity, a great script, and plenty of great acting talent. What else do you need to go enjoy yourself? Nachos? Fine, get nachos too.
Let us know how much you enjoyed CHiPs in the comments.