When you think of CHiPs – that’s the 1980’s TV show, not the stuff you eat with fish – you probably immediately think of Eric Estrada’s toothy grin, khaki uniforms, Ray Ban sunglasses, and a whole big ol’ helping of cheese. The popular TV series about two officers in the California Highway Patrol may have been classified as a drama, but it was certainly anything but, keeping things fairly light and fluffy in tone.
When it was recently announced that Dax Shepard would be writing/directing and starring in a modern feature film remake of the show alongside Michael Pena, it came as a bit of a surprise to hear that Shepard – who is best known for his comedy work – would be pulling an anti-21 Jump Street giving the lighthearted show a more serious tone. Just how serious? Try R-Rated. That’s according to Pena, who spoke to Collider while also confirming that the movie has just been greenlit by Warner Bros a few weeks ago, and also that a certain Kingpin will also be showing up.
For those of you who can’t watch the video, here are the relevant quotes, starting with the tone of the film.
“I think we’re going R [not PG-13]. I’m stoked on it, man. [Dax] just did another rewrite on it, and it’s solid. He’s a great writer anyway, but it’s not going to be like 22 Jump Street where there’s so many jokes, but it is going to be rated R like a Lethal Weapon-ish movie…
…It’s more like a Lethal Weapon where there’s a lot of action and what we wanted to do is if there’s any comedy that we do, it’s not like one-liners here and there, like we’re the guys always being stand-up comedians. It’s almost like you lose a little bit of the plotline whenever you’re off doing your own comedy thing, so we’re focusing a little more on the plot, if that makes any sense whatsoever.”
Pena – who will be playing Estrada’s character of Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, while Shepard takes on Larry Wilcox’s Officer John Baker – also explained how he’s preparing for the role.
“We got greenlit like two or three weeks ago, and as soon as that happened I had to start learning how to ride a motorcycle, rehearsing, and then working out. I’ve been throwing up like every day after workouts. I like food, you know? And I also like reading, being on my iPad, no walks in the park; just chilling with my son. We just lounge and this [gestures to stomach] gets bigger.”
Sorry, Michael. Can’t have any big stomachs with those tight uniforms. “Ponch” is your name, not a description of your midsection.
Pena also revealed that Dax Shepard originally wasn’t going to act in the movie, just writing and directing, but that Warner Bros had other ideas.
“Yeah, I think what happened with that, he pitched them to direct or just to write or whatever, and then I think somebody from Warner Bros said ‘Why don’t you be John Baker?’ and he said [shrugging] ‘A’ight’. Which is good for me, because then I knew he wanted me to be Ponch.”
Finally, Pena divulged what few details about the project he could.
“CHiPs is set in the modern day. Vincent D’Onofrio is in the movie as well. It’s going to be me, him and I think Dax’s wife [Kristen Bell] might be in it. [Jokingly] I think she’s holding out for lots of money.”
There’s no word yet on any timelines for this production, but I really like Pena’s work and Shepard has had his moments in the past. With such a solid cast, as long as they don’t take things too serious, this could actually work out well. Or not. I’ve long since given up on trying to predict the quality of these remakes.
Last Updated: July 9, 2015