Like the original series, CHIPS has Jon Baker and Frank “Ponch”
Poncherello paired up as motorcycle cop partners in the California
Highway Patrol. But in writer-director Dax Shepard’s version, the twist
is Ponch (Michael Peña) isn’t the same ladies’ man as Erik Estrada’s
original character. Instead, he’s a cocky undercover federal agent who
also happens to struggle with sex addiction. When he’s not shooting his
ex-partner (a very funny Adam Brody) in the shoulder to snag the bad guy
behind him, he’s getting frisky around Los Angeles. (It gets downright
Meanwhile, Baker (Shepard) is far from being the goody two-shoes
country boy Larry Wilcox played back in the day. Shepard shapes the
character to be a heightened version of himself — someone who’s good
behind anything with a motor and a thrill-seeker who has two dozen scars
from X Games-related activity to prove it. However, because of
his multiple injuries as a former pro motorbiker, his wife’s (Shepard’s
real-life spouse Kristen Bell) interest in him begins to fade.
Shockingly, Shepard gives each of the characters some depth and
reason for being a part of the force. While Baker is trying to win back
his wife’s affection by sporting a uniform and busting bad guys like her
father did, Ponch is working his way to the top by investigating a
multimillion-dollar heist that might be an inside job for the CHP.
(Vincent D’Onofrio as intense lawman Vic Brown looks extra suspicious.)
Compared to the CHiPs series, this version is very much its own thing.
The comedy is rude, crude, and
whenever Ponch is on screen — whether he’s observing two men’s genitalia
touching in the locker room or discussing his mellow time in the
bathroom — it gets marvelously foul-mouthed. Yet while the humor is
definitely adult in nature, it contains a good mix of physical comedy
and playful jokes that stick.
So if you leave your preconceptions at the door and just enjoy CHIPS
for what it is — good, silly fun — you’ll find yourself pleasantly
surprised by how much you will enjoy it.