CHiPS (2017)

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An utter piece of CHiP

Director: Dax Shepherd
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Starring: Dax Shepherd, Michael Peña, Vincent D'Onofrio, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Adam Brody, Rosa Salazar, Kristen Bell, Jessica McNamee, Vida Guerra, Jane Kaczmarek, Justin Chatwin, Ryan Hansen

In the films opening moments, a statement is placed upon the screen which reads "The California Highway Patrol does not endorse this film. At all". A presumably humorous attempt at trying to distance the law enforcement agency from the actions of these fictional characters. More appropriate would be extending the statement, to not being endorsed by the entire medium of cinema, as calling the result a cinematic disaster would be sugercoating things.

Determined to win his cheating wife back, Jon Baker (Dax Shepherd) joins the California Highway Patrol, where he's teamed up with a professional called Ponch (Michael Peña). Little does Baker know that his partner is an undercover FBI Agent named Castillo (a fact the film ultimately forgets), who's investigating a heist involving crooked cops.

As our lead, Dax Shepherd portrays a former Motorcross champion who's treated as a bumbling moron. Well, that's until the half-baked plot requires him to actually be something resembling a decent officer. In addition to starring, Shepherd writes and directs, and manages to pull off the latter two as well as a hook-handed gynaecologist.

Any scenes of action are enacted in such a messy and unexciting way, with the chases especially coming off as lacklustre and ineptly handled. Somehow worse than this are the camera angles, which regularly focus on men's crotches, women's behinds, and even a cat's anus. Such a perverted sensibility would even make Michael Bay blush.
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There's little room for the female cast to portray actual characters, as they fall into two categories: underdeveloped romantic interest, or duplicitous. One's left worried about Shepherd's relationship with wife Kristen Bell, who plays the cheating and spiteful wife to his onscreen character.

Then there's the attempts at delivering commentary, handled in an especially asinine manner, leaving one to wonder why Shepherd bothered in the first place. This is at its worst during a prolonged scene, where Ponch tries putting across an argument to defend his homophobia. It's an uneasy scene which leaves one to wonder about Dax Shepherd's attitudes to homosexuality.

It's certainly something to say that's the worst part about Michael Peña's character. He's more than willing to shoot his partner, and even more willing to brag to a criminal about sleeping with their wife. An unlikeable and overly defensive character, he's essentially a vehicle for an unnecessary use of gay panic.

When it comes to looking back on the films 2017 gave us, one is unsure whether any other film can deliver leads as poorly conceived or outright unlikeable as what CHiPS delivered. Confusing gay panic and a close-up of a feline anus for jokes, this is nothing short of an outright disaster.

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