California. Sunshine, beautiful people and the California Highway Patrol. They are all present in the movie reboot of the television series CHiPS.
Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña) is an FBI agent making the trip from Miami to the West Coast to help get to the bottom of a case involving some dirty cops in the California Highway Patrol. He’s paired up with a rookie named Jon Baker (Dax Shepard), who is magical on a bike but struggles in every other metric for an officer.
While Ponch is looking for dirty cops, Jon is doing everything he can to save his marriage. Jon thinks that being an officer, with his “cool” uniform, will bring his wife back to him. But his wife (Shepard’s real-life spouse, Kristen Bell) has most definitely moved on — Jon just can’t see how poorly he is being treated.
As the investigation widens and Ponch warms up to Jon, he lets his secret mission slip and things begin to get a bit hairy. No one knows who to trust in the department, but Ponch is motivated to clean up the dirty cops.
As a child — yes, I’m showing my age now — I grew up watching CHiPs. I have fond memories of the television show from my youth and was looking forward to what would be done with the film; what I witnessed onscreen was a bit disappointing. The magic I felt as a young boy was gone, but the reboot did give us a new look and feel.
There’s a bright future if the filmmakers want to go further with this franchise. What holds things back is the origin story of the relationship between Ponch and Jon. When they work together and play off each other, Peña and Shepard are fun in their roles; the problem here was that we didn’t really get to experience the partners until the last third of the film. In fact, the scene as the credits rolled exhibited more fun between two partners than the better part of the film.
While I was disappointed with this film, I wasn’t turned off to the concept. I’d like to see a second shot with these characters now that the setup is out of the way. Just the officers doing their daily jobs, hanging out and having fun. That would make a CHiPS sequel truly something that would be better than this film. Serve me up a second helping of CHiPS, but add a bit more dip for flavor.
CHiPS is available On Demand beginning June 27. Check your cable system for availability