CHiPS (Dax Shepard)

Trailers for Dax Shepard’s CHiPS looked waaaaaaay too generic.

Besides just the inherent-familiarity of TV-series-turned-movie remakes, CHiPS‘ specific buddy-cop comedy-formula has been pervasive in film for so long now, from Lethal Weapon to 48 Hours to Starsky & Hutch to The Other Guys right on up to last year’s horrid Let’s Be Cops. What could CHiPS possibly-add to such a worn-down genre?

The answer can be largely-summarized in four words: Never Doubt the Dax. Like much of Dax Shepard’s career – who here dons screenwriter AND director caps in addition to his usual leading man one – CHiPS may not be great all the time, but it’s rarely less than thoroughly-enjoyable, forgiving the brief moments of inferior-quality.

Entrusted as the sole creative-voice guiding this enterprise, Dax’s particular-brand of charming-crass coats the proceedings with an innate-air of likability, crucially-bolstered by his natural-chemistry with another of the most-appealing comedy-stars working today: Michael Pena, someone who also excels at crass-charm. They relentlessly-spearhead this gleefully R-rated affair between nonstop-jokes – including some remarkably well-timed physical-gags, evidence that Dax’s expert comedic-prowess extends behind the camera (and keyboard) as well – that impressively never significantly slow-down the effectively-communicated plot (a rarity for such over-the-top comedies, undeniably-aided here by the large amounts of distractingly-noticeable ADR work), with entertainingly-realized action scenes (another rarity in comedies!) to boot.

Yet CHiPS truly soars in their meta-comedy dialogue-exchanges that continually-deconstruct the typical testosterone-humor of too-many buddy-cop tales. A once-common but now cringe-worthy gay, sexist, and/or crude joke – those the trailer criminally-advertises without the subsequent analytical-context – often leads to the characters hysterically-disputing the appropriateness and even merits of such quips. In these conversations, CHiPS achieves a lofty-ideal that separates it from the countless other forgettable-remakes that infest movie-theaters every weekend: Dax actually comments on aspects of the original property in meaningfully-new ways, namely through periodically-adopting a more PC-friendly lens, which allows him to both justify delving into such blue humor AND derive even more self-aware yucks from it.

Despite ultimately not entirely-avoiding a tad too-many of the genre’s age-old trappings (most notably, the consistently rip-roaring narrative and comedic-pace lets up a bit in its concluding race to the finish), the more humorously-considered and even reflective moments forgive these expected-shortcomings, resulting in CHiPS surpassing all trailer-inspired expectations.

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