If you remember CHiP’S, the hit 80’s TV show about two CHP officers who had outrageous daily experiences on their routine traffic duties, then you’ll probably recognize this very formula set-up. Yes, it’s just another attempt to capitalize on resurrecting old TV shows back to the silver screen like 21 Jump Street or Starsky & Hutch.
A pet project of actor Dax Shepard (who’s known for being married to Kristen Bell), he wrote, co-produced, and directed this send-up of the old 80’s TV show, complete with CHP bikes doing amazing stunts, explosions, and women in yoga pants. But you also have some rather gruesome dismemberments, coarse and graphic language that is supposed to pass for humor, and it even gets dark in some places. And this is a comedy?
Working with an A-typical script and plot (lather, rinse, lather again) we start with two diametrically opposite guys: L.A. buff’d & ripp’d Jon Baker (Shepard) as an ex-X-Games motocross superstar that lives with his nasty ex-wife Karen (Kristen Bell), and plagued by constant pain with his bones cracking like twigs. Failing all his tests, the CHP still hires him because the man can ride a bike “like a mother-f*** “, as he puts it. Sure, that’s makes sense, right? The other guy is Miami FBI agent (Michael Pena) and sexual addict, Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (his alias) who goes undercover in L.A. to find the five dirty CHP cops who are stealing from armored cars using hi-tech Ducati bikes.
Naturally, the by-the-book and therapy-session quoting Jon is partnered with the abrasive and overly-zealous Ponch. Suffice to say, they do NOT get along with each other, especially as Ponch is trying his best to crack the clues behind the thefts and Jon just wants to earn his stripes. Between the CHP bikes doing crazy stunts trying to catch the bad guys, Ponch going all ga-ga over girls in yoga pants, and Jon constantly harping on Ponch over his mental and personal sexual preferences, they manage to bond after Jon saves Ponch’s life.
The evil leader of the CHP goon squad, Ray Kurtz (Vincent D’Onofrio), has a plan to convert all the stolen cash to a fancy painting so he can easily get it out of the country, but things go south when his drugged-out son (who, surprisingly, can still ride a bike like Evel Knievel) gets decapitated. Ouch! The ending has Kurtz kidnapping Karen so that he can take his revenge on the guys, but I think you already know what happens next. And for a little cherry on top, you have Erik Estrada coming in at the very end to say “hello”, just so you know that he was okay with this movie.
Written like this was an extended comedy skit you’d see on CollegeHumor.com or FunnyOrDie.com, Shepard wrote this movie like as a series of short gag films that are strung together with a weak, overused plot. He reaches into his comedy grab-bag, and the best he can do is grizzly dismemberment jokes, sophomoric dick and anal jokes, and sexual perversion yuks that fall flatter than the movie’s overall tone, which turns oddly dark at times for no apparent reason. It seems Shepard was trying waaay too hard to be as funny as he could, but only a few bits landed with a modicum of humor.
I will give points to the motorcycle stunt riders in the movie; something I haven’t seen this good in a while, given many of the stunts where done on those clunky CHP Harley-Davidson machines. Credit also to Pena who has slowly risen to the top of Hollywood’s list as a damn fine actor, thanks largely in part to his roles in Ant-Man and The Martian. He actually gives the movie it’s voice, rather than Shepard, and is a more believable and likable character.
Electra Glide In Blue (1973)