CHIPS (2017)

 

CHiPS. Released: March 24, 2017. Directed by: Dax Shephard. Starring: Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Vincent D’Onofrio. Runtime: 1h 40 min.

Dax Shepard’s third directorial effort reboots 1977 TV cop drama CHiPS into a raunchy buddy cop comedy. It’s not the best comedy but it entertains for enough of its runtime.

Larry Wilcox’s Jon Baker (Shepard) is updated to a washed-out stunt motorcyclist with no more fans or sponsors. His sole motivation is saving his marriage with wife Karen (Kristen Bell), and he brings up his marriage problems so much you can turn it into a drinking game.

Michael Peña is Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello, an FBI agent who is brought into the California Highway Patrol as an undercover agent to investigate an armoured van robbery ring rooted within the CHP itself. He’s partnered with Baker, and their chemistry isn’t great because and they bicker from the start.

Their fights in the first half are only occasionally funny. They establish Baker spends so much time in couple’s therapy that he’s almost an expert in trying to get to the root of Ponch’s problems. He’s a better wannabe psychologist than police officer since he can’t shoot his gun with any accuracy whatsoever.

They’re some of the worst on-screen cops you’ll see. Ponch is also reckless and does everything an undercover cop shouldn’t do. Plus, he can barely ride a motorcycle, which makes him the butt of some of the film’s funniest jokes during the chase scenes. Baker’s only graduated because he’s great at riding a motorcycle.

The problem with these bad cops is that they’re not believably written, and while it’s like a farce of bad cops, the film’s not clever so the line between attempted farce and plain stupid comedy blurs. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously so it still manages to be fun.

CHIPS (1)

One of the many chase scenes in CHIPS (Source). 

The stunts and chase scenes are great. It blends extreme sports with comedy and it works well, especially because of some of the bike jump stunts. The action’s well-directed and more fun than some jokes. The action scenes and umpteen crashes and explosions help distract from a simplistic story written by Dax Shepard.

The heists are fun but Shepard’s decision to reveal the bad cops to us from the word go removes all their mystery, and since we know who they are so long before our dynamic duo, the story loses punch and surprise. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the tough-as-nails corrupt cop ring leader. He’s a generically written brute only enlivened by D’Onofrio. His character is cruel for no reason and it makes him campy, especially when he breaks out a SWAT tank – which is admittedly awesome.

Shepard holds some characters back who are criminals and unceremoniously reveals them as baddies far too early. It’s disappointing because it would be a nice surprise to find out they’re villainous when Ponch and Baker learn it.

He doesn’t pen a strong story but his jokes are decent, and it finds a balance between big laughs and forgettable chuckles. Some gross-out raunchiness misses, especially a joke about how Baker doesn’t know the new trends of oral sex, that loses slight cleverness when it’s used too many times.

The main duo’s chemistry strengthens after they stop bickering, which helps make it a decent buddy comedy since they start to enjoy each other’s company. Plus, they are funny people. They become friends when Ponch makes lip contact with Jon’s wiener – and it’s funny, but it doesn’t feel naturally enough to be a believable best friend moment. Their chemistry suffers because of it. They don’t feel like besties like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street – and they don’t have a natural chemistry like the guys in Super Troopers.

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Dax Shepard and Michael Pena in CHIPS. (Source)

The supporting cast doesn’t leave an impression – though Maya Rudolph gives a decent cameo, and there are other familiar faces that pop up. The supporting characters are so one-note – especially Jessica McNamee, Rosa Salazar and Adam Brody – and it feels like Ponch and Baker are the only characters Shepard bothers to develop.

The self-involved nature of all the characters make them jerks. Baker’s obsession with his severed marriage is the film’s most annoying aspect, especially since it’s so obvious it’s over he seems delusional. Ponch is mostly just a cliché womanizer and sex addict, who has perfected one-night stands by writing the name of the woman on a Post-It note and putting it on his bathroom mirror.

Jon’s wife Karen (Bell) is the biggest jerk of them all and treats Jon terribly throughout. She feels satirical of trophy wives, but it would help if she was funny – instead, she’s heartless and terribly written. The character almost made me hate Bell whenever she was on-screen. Her talent feels wasted – but kudos to her for being a believable jerk, especially to her real-life husband.

CHIPS is a funny ride overall that gives the ‘70s cop show a modern comedy twist. It’s nice that Shepard gets to mix his love for motorcycles with comedy, but his passion merely translates into a forgettable action comedy.

Score: 60/100

Beerfest – A film review by Daniel Prinn – It suffers from a lack of charm and plot.

Beerfest

Release Date: August 25, 2006

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

Stars: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme

Runtime: 110 min

Tagline: Bring on the beer. They’ve got the nuts.

They certainly brought on some beer, but they didn’t bring us a lot of laughs.

Two brothers, Jan and Todd Wolfhouse, must travel to Munich for a traditional ceremony after the death of their grandfather. The ceremony is to put the urn of their grandfather’s ashes among the other urns of their ancestors, at Oktoberfest. After things go awry at Oktoberfest, their contact brings them to an underground beer games competition called Beerfest, often described as the ‘Fight Club’ of the beer drinking universe. There, they meet some nasty Germans who turn out to be their distant cousins, who accuse their grandfather of being a thief and their Great grandmother (Gam Gam) of being an old fashioned whore. They lasso up a beer drinking team, to get payback for the defilement of their family name, at next year’s Beerfest.

I’m writing this review after numerous watches, it used to sort of always be a guilty pleasure – that is, until I really knew how to look for a solid plot. That being said, the plot is pretty ridiculous here; I mean, I like my comedies with at least some strand of plot. I was expecting more from the creator of Super Troopers.

I’ll start with the positives. When it is funny, it usually is very funny. Some of the jokes are quite hit and miss, but a lot hit. Some of the characters you can get attached to, despite each of their annoying mannerisms. Landfill was my favourite here, but the actor is also my favourite of the Broken Lizard comedy team, so that may have a large influence. Another redeeming quality, though, is the (little bit of) nudity.

Unfortunately, now I have to tear this former guilty pleasure of mine apart. The gallons and gallons of beer very much outweigh the lack of laughs given to us throughout the feature; there definitely isn’t a laugh per minute. Some of the characters are just really, really obnoxious and irritating; especially some characters on the German team. Though, the character played by Will Forte was pretty funny. It is also quite a bit lengthy and overstays its welcome for a comedy that hardly has a great plot. It is sometimes had to bare through, because some of it is just so unfunny and irritating. It’s really too bad that the team couldn’t insert a whole lot of charm into this, like they did with Super Troopers.

Beerfest stars the Broken Lizard comedy team (creators of Super Troopers), Cloris Leachman, Will Forte, Nat Faxon, Eric Christian Olsen, Mo’Nique and Donald Sutherland.

Beerfest doesn’t offer a whole lot of laughs, but there are a few memorable ones. It’s a poor endeavour by the team; but can be enjoyable for frat comedy fans. It’s a fairly effective college comedy; that instead of teens, grown men are drinking the beers. My suggestion is to, like those guys in the film, see this drunk. It should help enhance more enjoyment.

When I loved this, I would have given it a 70, but now I’d give it a 50. So, in all fairness, I’ll meet in the middle.

60/100