Even some of the more engaging action comedy capers have to make a compromise, as the success rate in establishing a strong narrative while remaining consistently funny is a a hurdle many a filmmaker has stumbled on. Some thrive in their farcicality and the story becomes something of a side-note, while in others, it’s the comedy that takes precedence, with the narrative working as a mere vehicle for the humour. Dax Shepard’s CHiPS is a rare case, though – for it succeeds in neither.

Shepard plays Jon Baker, a newly enforced member of the CHP (California Highway Patrol) wanting to make his mark, and impress his wife (Kristen Bell) in a bid to save their dying marriage. Threatened with being fired if he doesn’t file within the top bracket of performers, he’s unenthused when meeting his partner, undercover FBI agent Frank Poncherello (Michael Pena), who isn’t so concerned with parking tickets, instead tasked with uncovering the five corrupt members of the organisation involved in recent crimes taking place across the city. The pair are like chalk and cheese but as they dive deeper into this web of deceit, they know they must trust one another in a bid to not only ensure the criminals are stopped in their tracks, but also to stay alive.

CHIPS ReviewWhen a film is presented as a comedy, as CHiPS surprisingly is, it requires one quite essential ingredient; humour. However it’s here this underwhelming endeavour falls short, for the amount of laughs to be had, in spite of the scattergun approach to jokes, is minimal, with so few punchlines landing. With a screenplay also penned by Shepard (so you know exactly who to blame for this mess) – the film resorts to shock humour in a bid to succeed, relying on misogynistic jokes that feel so dated. You’d like to think we’ve progressed beyond this brand of comedy, and though CHiPS is a throwback to 70s productions (namely the original TV show the film is based upon), it’s hard to see where these jokes, and these underwritten, objectified female roles have a place in a contemporary setting.


The film doesn’t even utilise the comedic potential and affability of Pena, who may want to have a word with his agent after this disappointing piece of cinema. The actor is prone, however, to taking on buddy cop films of this nature, but needless to say he’s better than this. That said, End of Watch was actually really good, but then War on Everyone was quite disappointingly bad. Guess that makes CHiPS the ugly one.

CHiPS is released on March 24th