If somebody makes a film to indulge their hobby that should be an instant red flag. One to raise the alarm bells that all with a film may not be well. It’s one thing to tell a profound tale which includes your hobby in it, or produce a film that makes us laugh so hard we wet ourselves, as Ryan Reynolds did to express his undying love for Deadpool comic books. Well Dax Shepherd has apparently decided to sculpt his love of motorbikes into a $25 million buddy cop remake of the old US TV series, CHiPs.
And who doesn’t love motorbikes? They look great, sound great and provide an intense physical bond between human and raw engineering power. They are something I have loved since taking a trip to the Isle of Man during TT Race season as a nipper. Back in the days of being young and full of hope.
Less than fifteen minutes into CHiPs, my childhood love of motorbikes was almost entirely dead and I wanted to use a Ducati 1199 as an object to bludgeon myself to death with. Just as long as it would get me out of having to watch the rest of this film.
What starts as an incoherent mess of a film, beset with jokes in the worst taste – starting with rampant, drooling misogyny – descends into piss poor, mean spirited visual torture.
Purely from a technical perspective the film is an omnishambles. The plot is virtually non-existent. I had less of clue coming out of the screening as I had going in. The direction, is caught between a rock and a sledgehammer to the private parts. It’s supposed to be a light-hearted comedy, as the TV series was, but Dax Shepherd (both writer and director) seems to want to make an action-thriller. So there are several pointless and needless explosions and some unresolved exposition about police corruption which is about as well explained as the benefits of immigration are to the average English yeoman.
None of this makes any sense of course and any efforts at plot are a sideshow to the slew of sewage that attempt to pass themselves off as jokes in CHiPs. Starting with a scene of shocking, leery, sexism, we move onto disableism – including mocking the murder of Reeva Steenkamp – before moving onto rampant homophobia and then back to the sexism. Of course we get dashes of casual racism to complete the dickhead bingo-full house.
From what I remember of the original TV Show; it was an entirely, harmless, good-natured and innocuous romp with a couple of likeable leads which gained as cult following down the years.
Shepherd – who as writer and director is almost entirely responsible for this disgrace – does nothing to capture to easy-going, good-natured spirit of that old show with Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. With the tactless, tasteless retrograde crudeness amped up to nigh on unbearable degrees stepping up instead.
Shepherd and Michael Pena (who should know better) are as dis-likeable leads as you could imagine. As for the rest of the cast, which includes the likes of Vincent D’Onforio, Kristen Bell and Maya Rudolph, they look slightly embarrassed to be there and as well they should.
I’m not against Dax Shepherd indulging his love of motorbikes. That’s his want and right and they are beautiful machines. Next time, however, when Shepherd, or anyone else fancies indulging their love for an inanimate object ruthlessly commercialised, just buy something, or write a book or make a documentary. But please, for the love of god, don’t inflict a feature film on people that’s so criminally bad, you make me regret choosing cinema as a passion.