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Movie Review

Bad guys? They're everywhere. That's why you need the good guys to put them behind bars.

That's the job of the brave officers who cruise the Golden State's myriad streets and roads: the California Highway Patrol. But what happens when the good guys and bad guys get mixed up? Well, then you've got a problem. One that requires an outsider—posing as an insider—to solve.

Which brings us to CHiPs (a loose, raunchy remake inspired by the popular late-'70s buddy-cop series of the same name).

A motorcycle-riding gang of hoodlums keeps holding up armored trucks amid traffic jams on California's notoriously snarled freeways, making off with millions. The FBI suspects some of those involved might be California Highway Patrol officers. So they send in a trigger-happy veteran agent going by the assumed name of Frank Poncherello—"Ponch," for short—to infiltrate the Highway Patrol's HQ in L.A. and identify those bad apples.

So far, so good.

Ponch's new partner is a rookie. And not just any rookie. Jon Baker's starting a new career to win back his estranged, cheating wife, Karen. He was once among the world's elite BMX stunt motorcyclists. Alas, thrills, spills and surgeries have taken their toll on the man formerly known as "The Baker." He's a physical shell of his former self, popping pain pills like M&Ms, and eager for redemption and a renewed sense of purpose.

You could hardly imagine someone less qualified to be a police officer than Jon Baker, except for one important skill: He knows how to ride a motorcycle. Any motorcycle. Anywhere. And when you spend your days on bikes chasing baddies, that's not a bad skill to have.

Ponch may be a better officer in most other respects. But he's got a problem, too: sex addiction. Ponch just can't help but leer at ladies in yoga pants—and there are a lot of them in SoCal—and he seemingly can't help but seduce them, too.

Ponch doesn't think much of Jon's desire to repair his marriage. And Jon doesn't think much of his partner's lascivious appetites.

But no matter, really. Neither of them have much time to ponder anything other than catching the criminal mastermind who likely carries a badge and keeps getting away with duffle bags full of loot on a lightning fast Italian motorcycle.

Or at least he did … until Jon Baker and Frank Poncherello showed up.

Positive Elements

Jon sincerely wants to repair his damaged marriage and win back his straying wife's affections. So much so that he endures ridicule from Ponch and resists multiple suggestive invitations from fellow police officer Eva Perez to begin a new relationship.

Ponch has his share of moral failings, to be sure. But he's determined to track down the corrupt cops in the police force. In addition, we see throughout the film that he's never really dealt with the death of a police partner years before. It's a loss that Jon repeatedly tries to psychoanalyze, much to Ponch's frustration.

Despite their odd-couple tensions, Ponch and Jon forge a friendship and professional partnership, one in which they're willing to risk their lives for each other as they doggedly track down thieving criminals. Jon even dramatically saves Ponch from being hit by a truck. (Ponch tries to do the same for Jon, but doesn't quite succeed.)

Spiritual Content

Ponch jokingly says something bad that happened was God's way of getting back at him for saying nasty things about Jon's wife. A remote area is known as the "Devil's Punchbowl."

Sexual Content

Ponch, as mentioned, has an almost insatiable sexual appetite. Multiple jokes revolve around sexting. We see different women's unclothed torsos and bare chests on smartphone screens several times, both in still photos and in one live video. One woman, shown very briefly, is completely naked. (She's also the wife of a criminal whom Ponch is pursuing.) We also hear multiple verbal references to masturbation. There's one short visual allusion to it, too. Ponch has sexted pictures of his anatomy to women. To his credit, Ponch seems to have a growing sense that his addiction is out of control, and he eventually says no to one willing partner.

A couple in a drug house gets caught (by Jon) having sex. The camera's glimpse of them (we see explicit movements and the man's bare backside) is extremely brief.

Ponch and Jon have explicit conversations about their sex lives. When Jon says that he and his wife haven't had intercourse in more than a year, Ponch tells him she's definitely having sex with someone else. Ponch (and another character) both talk about a particular taboo sexual experience.

Jon's wife, Karen, wears a cleavage-baring zip-up swimsuit; she also wears revealing tops. Jon hugs another officer (whom we later learn is gay) in a locker room. They're both wearing underwear. The camera watches their anatomy come into contact in slow motion. It's a gag that almost makes Ponch gag for real as he watches in horror. Several conversations revolve around whether Ponch is homophobic. (Jon says he is, Ponch denies that accusation.)

Three police officers are gay. One is open about his sexual identity. (He tells a female officer he could be interested in both Ponch and John). The other two are closeted officers, at least one of whom is married (though his wife seems to be aware of his same-sex attraction). We hear that the gay couple has leased a residence together.

Jon, hobbled by pain in his aching joints, falls out of bed naked and can't get up. He eventually calls Ponch, who carries him (wrapped in a curtain) to the bathtub. Ponch trips, prompting a conversation about where, exactly, Ponch's face was when he fell on top of naked Jon. (We see the man's privates very briefly after the fall, and we also see his bare torso and legs from the side.)

Ponch passionately kisses a clingy woman who's waiting at his apartment after work. Jon chides him, saying he hopes Ponch isn't taking advantage of insecure women to feed his sexual addiction.

Though he pines for his estranged wife for most of the movie, when it finally looks as though the couple might reconnect, Jon rejects her in favor of Eva's attentions—as if to intentionally hurt Karen. Jon and Eva make out passionately, her on top of him, in an ambulance as Ponch and an EMT watch approvingly. [Spoiler Warning: The EMT is played by Erik Estrada, who portrayed Ponch in the 1970s CHiPs TV show.]

There's explicit talk about the aroused male anatomy. A song lyric dubs Los Angeles the "city of sex."

Violent Content

CHiPs abounds with the kind of action violence you'd anticipate. There are multiple reckless car and motorcycle chases (with officers clocking thieves on bikes at 130 m.p.h. at one point).

Thieves repeatedly use explosives to blow the back doors off armored trucks—which also results in fiery devastation to the vehicles stopped behind the trucks. (At one point, the bad guys actually yank a woman out of a car so that she won't be killed, easily the only decent thing they do in the whole movie.)

We see multiple fistfights and gun fights. The former include all manner of brutal blows and body slams. The latter include multiple people being shot, sometimes fatally.

Most of that action is intense, but bloodless. On the more grim side of things, a gay police officer jumps from a helicopter to his death on the concrete below to protect his partner (and their secret, illicit relationship). A motorcyclist zips under a wire at high speed, instantly decapitating him. (We see blood spray as the head flies through the air and lands with a glass-cracking crunch on a car's windshield.) Someone gets three fingers shot off (we repeatedly see the bloody stumps as well as the dismembered fingers on the ground.)

Another person gets run over by a truck. A ricocheting bullet ends up embedded in a man's forehead, killing him. (We see the bloody entry wound.) Early on, Ponch intentionally shoots an FBI partner in the shoulder, knowing the bullet will go all the way through and hit the bad guy holding the agent at gunpoint. (That's exactly what happens, but Ponch's FBI partner isn't at all happy about it, because apparently he has a reputation for that dangerous ploy.) Someone's choked with a chain, while another combatant gets whacked repeatedly and brutally with a crowbar. Someone else gets Tazed in a swimming pool, then tied up.

Archived footage showcases several bad motorcycle accidents Jon had during competition. He's had more than 20 surgeries, we're told, and he says that the worst pain he ever had involved a "scrotal tear." The bone of his upper left arm has been replaced with a titanium substitute. It keeps Jon alive when he's hit by a vehicle, and it also deflects two bullets.

Crude or Profane Language

At least 90 f-words (including about half a dozen paired with "mother"). The s-word tally clocks in around 50. God's name is misused nearly 30 times (including about 10 pairings with "d--n"), while Jesus' name is abused at least seven. We hear a dozen crude slang references (combined) to the male and female anatomy. Other vulgarities include "d--n," "a--," "a--hole" and "b--ch."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Characters drink various alcoholic beverages throughout the film (whiskey, beer).

Jon isn't depicted as a prescription pain medication addict, per se. That said, he frequently pulls out a bottle of pills and dumps a few in his mouth, then crunches them with his teeth. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to Jon's frequent prescription med usage. Ponch scolds Jon, "You eat more pills than Elvis."

A minor character is a heroin addict. We see him apparently in the throes of withdrawal as he tries to kick the habit.

Other Negative Elements

When it comes to being a policeman, Jon is a straight arrow, while Ponch is willing to overlook small (to medium-sized) offenses.

There's deception and corruption all over the place here. A crooked cop tries to launder his ill-gotten loot by buying multi-million-dollar stolen artwork.

Jon vomits after he stumbles in upon a couple having sex in a filthy drug house (one with cat litter and excrement at the foot of the bed). An officer is described as "Asian as h---," a phrase that's repeated more than once. Ponch and Jon have multiple conversations about toilet and bowel habits.

Conclusion

It's sweet that Jon Baker wants to restore his troubled marriage. Ponch's pursuit of corrupt cops is admirable. And their emerging trust and respect for each other is nice, too.

Those are about the only nice things in this otherwise foul reimagining of NBC's sun-drenched police series CHiPs, which aired from 1977 to 1983—a series I suspect few former fans were holding out hope it would someday return to the big screen.

But here it is, in all its 2017 "glory." Which is to say that it's now been loaded up with R-rated raunchiness and gratuity, mostly in the form of sexual gags and jokes of varying varieties. Vulgarity—visual and verbal—runs rampant in this buddy cop reboot that's ostensibly about law and order. So much so that the film's comedic disclaimer at the outset tells CHiPs' viewers: "The California Highway Patrol does not endorse this film. At all."

And neither do we.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Dax Shepard as Jon Baker; Michael Peña as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello; Kristen Bell as Karen Baker; Vincent D'Onofrio as Ray Kurtz; Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Peterson; Adam Brody as Clay Allen; Jessica McNamee as Lindsey Taylor; Rosa Salazar as Ava Perez; Jane Kaczmarek as Jane Lindel; Justin Chatwin as Raymond Reed Kurtz Jr.; Ryan Hansen as Brian Grieves; Maya Rudolph as Sgt. Gail Hernandez

Director

Dax Shepard ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 24, 2017

On Video

June 27, 2017

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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