Thursday, 13 April 2017

Film Review: Chips


Humourless, disorderly and just plain ugly - you really don’t want to watch Chips, trust me.

Starring Kristen Bell as YouTube thumbnail
From Charlie’s Angels to Starsky and Hutch and 21 Jump Street, Hollywood loves to dig into the past and resurrect dusty 70s and 80s TV shows and give them a raunchy 21st Century spin; sometimes it works (the Jump Street movies are a hoot) and sometimes it doesn’t (that Dukes of Hazzard thing with Jessica Simpson) – and then there is Chips.

I want you to close your eyes and picture the least funny film you can imagine, where each scene is a joyless, jumbled mess of disjointed editing, harried plot details and distasteful, putrid humour. That movie you’re picturing in your head doesn’t even come close to how offensively bad Chips is. To paraphrase the great Roger Ebert, Chips doesn’t just scrape the bottom of the barrel – it doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as the worst barrels imaginable. 

Hang on a second; I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s circle back to a brief plot synopsis shall we? Not that it really matters – telling a coherent narrative isn’t just secondary in Chips, it’s situated somewhere outside the top ten when it comes to what really matters to writer, director and co-lead actor Dax Shepard.

As I said, Chips is based on a cute 70s cop show about the California Highway Patrol (hence the bafflingly nonsensical acronym for a title). Shepard plays Jon Baker, a retired motorcycle stunt rider who enrols in the CHP to win back the affection of his visibly disinterested and disloyal wife Karen (Kristen Bell, who is Shepard’s actual wife in real-life – haha, so meta – this film has so many layers!)

Jon’s partner is undercover FBI agent slash legit sexual predator who needs to be locked up Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Michael Pena). When Ponch screws the pooch and shoots another office while attempting to foil a heist, he’s placed undercover alongside the hapless Baker and together they need to learn to work together and end the string of heists. Hilarity ensues, presumably. 

If only that were the case. Alas, Chips doesn’t just fail to entertain as an action-comedy, it pretty much fails in any and all respects. The narrative, as I mentioned, is incoherent at best. For a film with such a simple setup, there are at least a dozen too many characters. 

The villains are sketchy (by which I mean they have zero motivation or genuine logical thought for anything), the heroes are either dim-witted douchebags or straight-up sex pests and the reasons for us to care are practically non-existent. There are a gaggle of supporting characters that make the occasional aside (which I guess constitutes a subplot?) but nobody really matters. They’re all unfunny idiots who are hamstrung by a plot that is both ridiculously simple and painfully convoluted at the same time – even with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be able to recite the plot of Chips. It doesn’t make a lick of sense. 

The editing is terrible, the action is limp and uninteresting, and scenes just lurch from one unfunny joke to the next with no purpose or driving force. I’ve genuinely never seen a major studio film as poorly structured, shot and edited as Chips. It’s bafflingly bad. Worst of all, the humour is just plain mean. Jokes are made at the expense of gay people, people with disability, people with Crohn’s Disease, women in general – the list goes on and on. 

The Verdict: 2/10


If you’ve gotten this far and are still considering checking this film out, you deserve every second of excruciating pain coming your way. You have been warned.

Chips is in cinemas across Australia now.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

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