CHIPS Recap

Jamie

Jon Baker and Ponch are partners on the California Highway Patrol. While Jon sees CHIPS as a way to earn back the love of his estranged wife, Ponch is actually an undercover FBI agent looking for corrupt cops involved in a series of highway robberies. Can they take down the baddies and get the girl(s) before it’s too late? FInd out in… CHIPS.

How?! FBI agent Castillo is a risk-taking super cop who don’t play by nobody’s rule (natch). In the process of breaking rules and taking names, Castillo gets in hot water and is sent undercover as ‘Ponch,’ an officer in the California Highway Patrol. Meanwhile Jon Baker is one of the worst candidates for CHP there is, but with his motorbike racing pedigree and a sob story about his estranged wife he finagles his way onto the force. As a team, they start investigating a series of highway robberies suspected of being an inside job, all the while battling Jon’s addiction to painkillers, Ponch’s addiction to masturbating, and questions about their own sexuality that seem to send them into panic. This is all very upsetting, but apparently is supposed to make me laugh… I guess because it’s funny that Ponch is a step away from being a sex criminal. Hilarious! Through a series of high speed chases Ponch and Jon eventually catch up with the ringleader’s son, who is killed. Due to all his rule-breaking, risk-taking, and name-taking Ponch is fired from the FBI. Unwilling to stop their investigation and goaded by the kidnapping of Jon’s estranged wife, Ponch and Jon confront the ringleader, a fellow CHP officer. With the help of the full CHP force they take down the corrupt cops and save the day. THE END.

Why?! Jon wants to earn back the love and respect of his estranged wife, who by all accounts is a terrible person. Ponch on the other hand seems to have no motivations other than to solve crimes and masturbate while doing so. This combination of buddy cops turns out to be weird, sad, and disturbing. Great! As for the bad guy, he’s trying to get enough money to get his son into rehab… also very sad. A total bummer of a film even without all the gay panic content.

What?! An incredible product placement movie. From the start Ponch is using Dove moisturizer to convey his pretty boy persona and Jon is washing his pain pills down with Red Bull to convey his X-treme persona. These aren’t just product placement, these product placement are being used to define characters. Add on top that throughout the film our hateable heroes are stopping at every LA-centric restaurant under the sun, from Pink’s to Tommy’s Burgers, and we’ve got something special.

Who?! A number of uncredited roles in this one, including Erik Estrada’s cameo. Stark difference from Baywatch where Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson got laughably high billing. Also Josh Duhamel and Maya Rudolph have minor roles that went uncredited. They must have jumped in for funsies.

Where?! A+ Settings Alert! CHIPS stands for California Highway Patrol and that’s enough for me. This is also an early contender for the 2018 Setting as Character Smaddies Baddie as every LA centric restaurant in the city is featured and even Dax gave an interview asserting that the real star of the film was Southern California. Boom. That’s an A+ if I’ve ever seen one.

When?! There are two spots where a date could be found. One is on Ponch’s phone in the opening scene where it seems like it says that it’s November 2nd. However, a few scenes later, when Ponch is being introduced at CHP the blackboard says that “all 415’s have to be in by September 1,” so you would think everything would take place in August or something. Maybe they just don’t erase that blackboard all that often or (hear me out) perhaps they didn’t put as much effort into the exact temporal setting as I do in trying to find it. Disappointing. D.

This film WAS… WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WAS!… AND WE LET IT OFF THE HOOK! Basically, everything that we presumed and feared from the trailer came true. This is a poorly made film rife with jokes that play mostly on sadness. It’s certainly different than Baywatch and the Jump Street films, which is a credit to the creators I guess, but Baywatch is just a better film (which is kinda crazy to say). While I would endure a Baywatch sequel, I wouldn’t even enjoy a CHIPS 2. Even on a Fifty Shades Freed, staring into the abyss kind of a way… I think I’m just realizing that I really didn’t enjoy this film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Alright, so you’re a producer and maybe your frustration with not getting invited to the 21 Jump Street cast party made you act a bit rashly. Baywatch … was not sweet IP. But this time you definitely got some sweet IP. CHiPs! Everyone liked CHiPs. Erik Estrada and … like motorcycles. Maybe you won’t get to meet The Rock, but Dax Shepard is … pretty close. Sweet IP Money Train here I come! What could go wrong? Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The storyline is actually a lot more coherent and focused than you would expect. Also, I tend to enjoy it when characters who would have been incompetent if they were in a film from, say, the 90s, are now written as super competent. What’s that? It sounds like a Sklog-cabulary Quiz!

Gross Competence (n.) – Behavior that appears to be erratic and incompetent, but is nevertheless quite effective at getting a particular job done. Characters exhibiting gross competence often appear to be savants in their particular occupation.

Zac Efron in Baywatch, or Andy Samberg in Brooklyn 99 I think are at least close to this definition as well. Basically the professionals here often come across as foolish or bumbling, but ultimately, against all odds, their actions are exactly what is needed to get the job done. I like this trope in television and film. For me, rooting for a competent hero is far preferable to rooting for an incompetent one. And it was nice to see Dax Shepard’s character not come across as an idiot. Well … not a total idiot at least.

The Bad (Sklognalysis) – The film is gross. They spend a good amount of one scene talking about eating butts … yup. It is upsetting that the gay panic stuff from the trailer was such a big part of the film. And this film has way too much unneeded nudity. Comes across as exploitative. By giving up the bad guy early it makes the mystery basically worthless. And finally, all supporting characters are so undeveloped that when they do occasionally wander into a scene it just doesn’t work because their motivations and abilities are never established. So … yeah, a ton of not so great stuff here. Question for our Sklognalysis: If you lampshade blatant gay panic humor by having the main character state that he thinks someone is homophobic if they don’t want to touch dicks when hugging … does that help or hurt? Answer: neither, trick question. It is still gay panic, and it is still gross.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think paired with Baywatch CHIPS could have an interesting legacy. If we further collect more television adaptations in the future we could have quite the expertise on the niche genre. The films got the cred though, number 7 on the AV Club’s worst-of list for 2017. Didn’t make an appearance in Rolling Stone’s or Variety’s lists, but it does get a few shout outs. It has the cred.

I feel a bit like we are dropping the ball on the adaptation cycle by not watching the original sources. Can’t really watch many CHiPs though, and even if I did the early season is different than late season, etc. Thinking back on Baywatch and even 21 Jump Street though I feel like these adaptations aren’t actually very “good”. They are modern action comedies fashioned out of literally the most basic plot elements from 80s television shows. I would be interested to see if/when someone decides to set a movie like this in the 80s and go for the kind of funny nostalgia of it all.  Wait … did I just describe the terrible Starsky & Hutch adaptation? For now I give the adaptation a C+ with the caveat that if I ever do watch some CHiPs (I won’t) I’ll update the grade. Something like 21 Jump Street I think reaches in the B-range. Not a great adaptation, but the quality of the film makes up for it.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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