Rated R, 101 minutes
The silly but unoriginal new comedy "CHiPs" is really nothing new at all. The popular late 1970's TV show, remade here as a raunchy buddy cop movie, provides some scattered laughs, mostly shock value ones, that can't save these "CHiPs" from being a stale and unnecessary offering.
Two middle-aged California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers Jon and Ponch (Dax Shepard and Michael Pena) who are tasked with highway patrol soon find themselves in a situation like none other when a sadistic ex-cop & his theft hitmen are wreaking havoc throughout their city.
Directed and written by star Shepard, "CHiPs" is dumb, unmemorable fun that rides thinly on the charms of its two stars, who are game but you realize early on that it's a film whose trailers likely provide most of the biggest laughs. A comedy that relies heavily on unfunny sex jokes for big laughs, this is mostly a second-rate "21 Jump Street" that lacks the smarts and bravado of that film, which "CHiPs" is obviously trying to emulate in its format: a serious cop TV show turned into a buddy comedy (what's next, "NYPD Blue?").
Shepard, an appealing comedian, isn't a strong enough director and writer to bring this type of thing to life, and it shows with some sloppy, lazy scenes and a contrived, predictable set up that isn't much of a mystery from the get-go. What he lacks in behind-the-scenes talent, he brings to the table a muscular physique, which he isn't afraid to showoff, as well as his lovely wife Kristen Bell, in a throwaway role as his estranged wife. He and Pena have some decent chemistry, though the script doesn't give them enough to do together that's truly funny - explosions and fights don't really make it any funnier.
Vincent D'Onofrio of "The Magnificent Seven" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" chews scenery as the bad guy, while "Malcolm in the Middle's" Jane Kaczmarek is wasted as the captain with a sultry side. If you expect a cameo from any of the original "CHiPs" stars, then you won't be surprised when star Erik Estrada shows up at the end, though in fact that could be lost on many millennials who won't recognize him.
Shepard is a nice guy, but there isn't much to the new "CHiPs" (and the mixing of upper and lower case letters in a movie name is kind of a drag when typing it out). I'd rather get my empty calories from Cheetos than this stale bag of dirty jokes.