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Chips (2017)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/27/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/16/2017

Is Dax Shepard a household name? I think that if you stopped people on the street and asked them about Dax Shepard, they would think that it was some sort of dog. If you showed them a picture of the actor, they may recognize him from Parenthood or the commercials which he's done with his wife, Kristen Bell. But, apparently, Shepard has done enough in his career and made enough connections to get some clout in Hollywood, because somehow gave him the go-ahead to write and direct a big-screen version of the classic 1970s television show Chips. Is Chips a household name? For a certain generation it certainly is, and they are going to be pissed when they see what Shepard has done to the show. Those who don't know the series will be completely baffled.

As Chips opens, we are introduced to two very different men. Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) is a former motocross star who is need of a job in order to save his marriage. So, he applies to be an officer with the California Highway Patrol. Despite the fact that he fails every exam, his proficiency with a motorcycle lands him the job. Castillo (Michael Pena) is an FBI agent who works undercover in Miami. He is given an assignment to go undercover in the California Highway Patrol, using the name Francis Llewelyn Poncherello, to find crooked cops. Ponch, as he likes to be called, is partnered with Baker, and this incompetent rookie immediately gets on his nerves. But, he soon learns that he will need Baker's innocent view of the world and motorcycle savvy in order to stop a group of thieves who are robbing armored cars.

Chips is just the latest in a very long line of modern movies which are based on older television shows, some of which are revered as classics. It's not unusual for these movies to not only update the shows, but to add some bits and pieces to make it more risque or appetizing to a new audience. Even with these changes, the majority of the movies stick with the original premise and use it as springboard.

With Chips, Shepard has taken these ideas and both ran with them and torn them asunder. The original Chips TV shows followed the adventures of Ponch and Jon, two members of the California Highway Patrol who rode motorcycles and each week would solve crimes. Overall, the show was pretty innocuous, dishing out highway-based action over six seasons, adding in a layer of cheesy humor and Ponch's love for the ladies. The characters in the new movie ride motorcycles and work for the California Highway Patrol and they are humans and that's about where the similarities end.

Because, for some reason, Shepard has decided to create an insanely weird movie, which is linked to the show in only the most tenuous ways. For starters, Jon is an idiot. Only knowing motorcycles, he backs his way into the job. From there, he is either over-zealous in writing tickets, or has no idea how to do police work. In addition, he's oblivious to the fact that his wife (Kristen Bell...how did they get her?) is cheating on him. Oh, did I mention that certain smells make him vomit? With Ponch, we get a sex addict who obsesses about yoga pants. When he's not doing that, he's shooting his partner and neglecting protocol. The result? Neither of the lead characters are very likeable -- Jon is pitiful and Ponch is a jerk.

Then, Shepard throws all of this into a needlessly complicated story involving dirty cops and double-crosses. Are we actually supposed to care about this story? Or the fact that everyone that Jon meets seems untrustworthy? I must admit that the robbers' motivation for seeking money is an interesting one, but any goodwill created by this is destroyed by the number of people involved in the gang and the woefully vague notion that investing in art is the best way to be an international thief. Tossed into this story is a script which is episodic at best, and is littered with scatological humor. This is definitely an R-rated version of Chips. But, was anyone asking for that?

In the end, Chips is an oddity. We have a movie which is based on a recognizable name, and which contains some familiar faces, and which turns into an incredibly odd movie which contains jokes about opiate dependence and litter boxes. I may have chuckled a few times, but I mostly just sat there dumbfounded. I don't know if I can recommend this movie, but I feel that other people need to see it simply to confirm that it really exists.

Chips really lets us down by only including one motorcycle stunt on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as we can see textures on objects and the depth is nice. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences provide impressive stereo and surround effects. Some of the surround effects show off individual effects. The thieves use high explosives for their jobs and the explosions deliver a nice amount of bass.

The Chips Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. "This is Not Your Dad's Chips" (9 minutes) has Shepard walking us through an overview of the film's conception. The piece then touches on specific scenes and characters, focusing on Dax's writing. (OK.) "Practical Pursuit" (9 minutes) takes us on-set to see the work which went into the stunts, chases, and car wrecks. "Ducati: The Perfect Bike" (5 minutes) has Shepard discusses the virtues of having Ducati motorcycles in the film. The Disc contains ten DELETED SCENES which run about 10 minutes. There are some scenes here which weren't in the finished film, but no new characters or subplots. There is one moment here which we all could have done without. These scenes can also be watched with an introduction by Shepard.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long