Follow TV Tropes


Film / CHiPs

Go To

CHiPs is the 2017 film adaptation of the series CHiPs, starring Michael Peña, writer and director Dax Shepard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, and Rosa Salazar.

The film follows FBI Agent Castillo (Peña) as he is sent undercover in the California Highway Patrol as "Ponch" to investigate a series of armoured truck robberies that the FBI suspects involves CHP officers (who are, in fact, a crew of CHP officers led by Officer Ray Kurtz (D'Onofrio). There he partners with Jon Baker (Shepard), a former motocross star and probationary CHP officer, and together they investigate the case while Jon remains unaware of Ponch's true identity.



  • Actor Allusion:
  • Almighty Janitor: Ponch has all of the skill and experience you'd expect from an elite FBI agent, but has to act as a mere highway patrolman as part of his undercover mission. By the end of the movie, he chooses to become a CHP officer full time and turns down a chance to rejoin the FBI.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Jon is uncomfortably honest about everything, gives away personal details like it's small talk, is incredibly eccentric and has an expertise in motorcycles.
  • Anything That Moves: Ponch is shown to sleep with just about any woman with a pulse, which only further fuels Jon's speculation that Ponch has a sex addiction.
  • Advertisement:
  • Asshole Victim: Karen treats Jon horribly, even for exes, so her getting tazed in her swimming pool, kidnapped, and held hostage is not entirely undeserved.
  • A-Team Firing: Jon fires an entire magazine at one of the robbers while they're both standing still and doesn't hit anything. Then the robber pulls out his own gun...
  • Awesome by Analysis: Jon's motorcycle expertise comes in handy when he's able to identify the exact make and model of the bikes used in the robbery from a cell phone video taken of the robbers riding away, based on the engine noise and the type of bike identified from eyewitness accounts. In fact, he's not even looking at the video when he does this.
  • Badass Biker: As a former motocross champion, Jon is unmatched when it comes to riding a motorcycle. This, combined with his sergeant sympathizing with his conflict with his wife, is what allows him to become a CHP officer despite otherwise doing terribly in all of his other preliminary exams. Subverted by Ponch, who, while competent enough on a bike to keep up with Jon on the highway, is unable to do any of the off-road or stunt driving that his partner can.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The CHP aren't taken particularly seriously by most, and their "shit brown" uniform is often mistaken for a UPS driver's. Subverted by Jon, who actually thinks it looks cool. He and Ponch later upgrade to more conventionally cool-looking blue motocross-inspired outfits after they put aside their differences and come together as a team, but are shown back in the normal uniforms during the end credits.
  • Benevolent Boss: While Kurtz is a ruthless brute of a man, he is also shown to be very loving toward his son and to have earned the trust and adoration of his subordinates.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jon's two love interests have this dynamic, with the kind and approachable Officer Perez contrasting Jon's estranged Trophy Wife Karen.
  • Bilingual Backfire: While riding in the ambulance at the end, Jon asks Ponch and the paramedic to speak in Spanish so he won't understand what they're saying about him while he's making out with Officer Perez. It backfires hilariously when they start talking about how hot Perez is and whether Jon "eats ass" and Perez scolds them because she speaks Spanish, too.
  • Brick Joke: Ponch shooting his partner Clay Allen. More than once.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ponch is a sex-obsessed maverick, but he's also an excellent agent who is equally good at performing undercover work and taking action on the field. When the situation doesn't involve motorcycles, he pulls most of the weight in his partnership with Jon.
  • Bury Your Gays: Zigzagged. The Plot-Triggering Death involves the Dirty Cop ringleader threatening one of his men with the life of his gay lover. The latter disappears from the plot, and there's another Camp Gay CHP officer ("Gay Brian") who survives the whole movie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ponch's ex-partner Clay always has his attempts at busting criminals compromised by his Cowboy Cop former partner, who also ends up shooting him (either accidentally or out of negligence for his safety) each time for his troubles.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Jon Baker is an unusual case in that his obsession with following the rules is very much justified by him being given his badge on a probationary basis, meaning that he has to be really anal about his conduct or he'll be kicked off the force. He's also much more slovenly and less on the ball than his Cowboy Cop partner on account of his lack of experience and messy personal life.
  • The Cameo: Maya Rudolph and David Koechner appear at the police academy.
  • The Casanova: Ponch is a sex addict who generally has no problem attracting one night stands. In a slightly more realistic take on this trope, he is made out to have close to no standards for who he sleeps with so long as he gets to have sex.
  • Character Development: Jon learns to let go of his past and move on from his wife while Ponch learns to acknowledge his feelings instead of pushing them away and be more amenable to working with others.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One of Jon's arm bones has to be held together with titanium. The kind strong enough to help Jon stay intact after getting run over by a humvee, and deflect bullets.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Ponch is a sex addict who can't go an hour without masturbating, but he's a charming guy with a heart of gold despite that.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Jon constantly encourages Ponch to be more reflective on his life and feelings, but it is ultimately Ponch who points out to Jon that his fixation on getting back together with his wife is a subconscious projection of his unwillingness to move beyond his motocross past.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: After Ponch introduces himself to Kurtz, Kurtz asks him if he knows a particular officer from his "old" unit, Bob Lynn, who Ponch pretends to know, calling him "Asian Bob". When Kurtz suggests that Bob is actually white, Ponch recovers by saying he actually meant a different officer named Bob Lin. Later on, when Kurtz and another officer are looking into Ponch's cover identity, they actually find an Asian officer named Bob Lin (that Ponch had his FBI colleagues insert into the database to back up his cover story).
  • Cowboy Cop: Castillo/Ponch gets the job done but he also annoys the shit out of his FBI boss (he even shoots his partner when he's taken hostage in the opening sequence after the criminal overpowers him while being arrested). His recklessness later costs him his FBI job when he tracks down Kurtz's son and ends up not only ruining a DEA sting operation (and in the process accidentally shoots his FBI partner ''again''), but gets Kurtz's son killed as well (see Off with His Head!). And that's before he accidentally sexts his boss, Captain Lindel...
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Jon is an outstanding motorcyclist... and painfully incompetent at nearly everything else.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jon is a guileless stooge who is obsessed with earning back the love of an estranged wife that clearly couldn't care less about him, can barely walk without consuming a cocktail of medications, gets sick simply from being in another person's house, and is unable to shoot a completely stationary target, but he's also a former professional stunt biker who is close to unstoppable when riding. His encyclopedic knowledge of motorcycles also enables him to identify the make and model of a bike simply from the sound of its engine, while his detail-oriented personality lets him pull off a Sherlock Scan while investigating crime scenes.
  • Darker and Edgier: And at the same time, more juvenile than the original TV series.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Castillo/Ponch can't go an hour without finding a public restroom in which to jerk off, due to his sex addiction.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Downplayed; while Perez ends up being the one to take Taylor down, the extent of their fight is the former tackling the latter.
  • Determinator: Jon Baker, survivor of a dozen motocross injuries, takes a handful of painkillers every morning just to get through the tryouts for the CHP, all just to salvage his relationship.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Kurtz is the ringleader of the armoured truck robberies.
  • Dirty Old Man: Ponch's supervisor, Special Agent Peterson, is a Covert Pervert example. While he's always harping on Ponch for sleeping around at the expense of his work, he also constantly brings up all the "juicy LA booty" that Ponch is at risk of being distracted by during his time in the city.
  • Distressed Damsel: Jon's estranged wife is kidnapped by Kurtz during the climax to lure him and Ponch to his location.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Subverted. Karen looks like she wants to rekindle her marriage with Jon at the end and asks to ride in the ambulance with him, but Jon turns her down, stating that she's "kind of a dick".
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Jon is willing to do whatever it takes to win back the love of his wife, including a late-in-life career change that is completely at odds with the numerous physical ailments he accumulated across his time as a stunt biker. Karen clearly couldn't care less about him, and is suggested to have strung him along for his money even when their marriage was more functional.
  • Driven to Suicide: Kurtz forces helicopter pilot TJ to commit suicide by jumping out of his helicopter as punishment for stealing from him after a previous heist by holding his partner (and lover) hostage.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening sequence highlights both Ponch and Jon's personalities as they go about their days while also emphasizing their differences:
    • Ponch wakes up one minute before his alarm goes off at 5:00 AM while Jon sleeps through his at 8:00 AM for a full thirty minutes. Jon struggles to get out of bed and we're treated to several shots of scars across his body and flashbacks to the motocross incidents that caused them.
    • Ponch makes himself a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast while Jon shoves a few dozen painkillers down his throat and chugs a Red Bull.
    • Ponch meticulously primps in front of the mirror with several facial scrubs and hair mousses while Jon runs some water through his hair in a public bathroom.
    • Ponch remembers the name of his one-night stand by reading a post-it note he placed on his bathroom mirror the night before (which he promptly throws into a waste basket filled with several other similar notes) while Jon tries to call his wife but only gets her answering machine.
    • Ponch acts as the getaway driver for a bank robbery; his driving is excellent but has no regard for collateral damage or the safety of his passengers. After they escape the police, he reveals himself as an FBI mole and casually disregards the close relationship he formed with the leader of the robbers on the grounds that he killed his old partner. When the robber tries to use Ponch's current partner as a hostage, Ponch shoots through both of them to take him out, not caring for either's safety. As he drags the robber off to be arrested, he brags about having slept with his wife as a final punch in the gut.
    • Jon takes his preliminary exams at the CHP academy and utterly fails at each one due to either his various physical ailments or general ineptness. This changes during the motorcycle control test, which he aces while performing several additional stunt tricks along the way. When his scores are being reviewed, he is able to squeak out a probationary graduation by revealing that he intends to become a cop to win back the love of his wife, which endears him to his sergeant.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A common theme presented throughout the movie is that each of the criminals is shown to genuinely care about a loved one:
    • Kurtz is robbing the trucks in order to raise money to get his drug-addicted son out of Los Angeles and into treatment.
    • Grieves refuses to abandon Kurtz (his uncle) when he is being pursued by Ponch and Jon, and goes against his orders of returning to the safe house to assist him in escaping them.
    • Taylor tries to console Kurtz after his son's death, offering to be there for him if he ever wants to talk, and refuses to betray him to save herself.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: During the first robbery, Kurtz drags a woman out of her car. Not because he needs the car, but because her car was directly behind the armoured truck and she would have been killed when the explosive charge on the door went off. This is proven totally justified when the explosive goes off and not only wrecks the woman's car, but blows up the truck behind it (thankfully, the driver quickly bailed after he realised what was going to happen).
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Jon makes the jump off an improvised ramp into Kurtz's compound, then encourages Ponch to make the jump like they were in a sports movie - unfortunately a shotgun blast sent the ramp into a bad angle, and Ponch makes the jump - into a ditch.
  • Fair Cop: Jessica McNamee as Officer Taylor and Rosa Salazar as Officer Perez. Ponch also describes Captain Lindel as having a "tight" body. Obviously not standard for the CHP though, when a nurse mentions a suspect left with a "super pretty CHP officer" Perez states that he must mean Taylor, which all the other officers agree with.
  • Fanservice: Ponch's various romantic flings appear naked throughout the movie, Karen spends much of her screentime in a red one-piece with a low neckline, and a lot of focus is placed on the rear ends of women wearing tight-fitting pants. There's some for the opposite gender too, as the tall and toned Jon is seen in tight-fitting boxer briefs or completely naked on multiple occasions, including having a brief instance of Male Frontal Nudity.
  • Fingore: Ponch gets three of his fingers shot off in the climactic gun battle.
  • Foil: Turns out both Jon and Reed Jr were both former motorcross champions — while Reed chose to wallow in drugs and self-pity, ultimately getting caught up in Kurtz's schemes, Jon sought to salvage the bits of his life he had left (albeit with the help of different drugs).
  • Functional Addict:
    • Jon is unable to move without taking painkillers by the handful, due to his long list of motocross-related injuries. Ponch speculates that he's undergoing the beginnings of an opioid addiction after learning that he only has bowel movements once every two weeks.
    • Ponch himself is a sex addict who compulsive masturbates once an hour and can't speak to women without trying to seduce them. Jon's attempts at getting him to come clean and admit he has a problem never work.
  • Gold Digger: Karen is implied to be this; all of the photos of her with Jon while he was still a motocross champion have her front and center as though she were the focus of them, and the impetus of her kicking him out of their house was him losing his sponsors.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Captain Lindel is pushing 60 but reveals herself to have a surprisingly fit and supple body, enough for Ponch to mistake it for the much younger Taylor's before seeing her face. Despite being Squicked out at first, Ponch later admits that she's "tight" and the two are implied to start dating or at least hook up by the end of the movie.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Officer Perez wouldn’t miss so many shots in the climactic gunfight if the flip-up rear sight of her AR-15 wasn’t folded down.
  • Handicapped Badass: A career's worth of motocross injuries has left Jon with a weak knee and so much chronic body pain that he needs to consume dozens of painkillers a day just to be able to move around, but none of this stops him from retaining his excellent motorcycling skills or his willingness to risk serious bodily harm to get the job done.
  • Hate Sink: Karen kicked Jon out of their house after he lost his motocross sponsors, belittles him whenever they interact, and is transparently cheating on him with another man. She's also implied to have only married him in the first place to leech off of his success as a stunt driving champion. Considering that even the Big Bad of the movie is given redeeming qualities, she stands out as the only character who is wholly unlikable.
  • Hidden Depths: His knowledge of bikes aside, Jon Baker's Sherlock Scan skill lets him figure out that the dead cop's home isn't his only one. No work bench, no gun safe...
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Subverted; Taylor appears to undergo this at the end when she appears suddenly behind Kurtz with her gun drawn and makes him put his hands behind his back as if to cuff him, but actually does so to hand said gun to him to take out Jon and Ponch with. Her feigned Big Damn Heroes moment even comes with triumphant background music that abruptly stops when the truth comes out.
  • I Choose to Stay: Ponch has to be sworn into the CHP to take on Kurtz. He doesn't take it back at the end.
  • I Have Your Wife: Kurtz takes Jon's wife hostage in the film's climax.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Jon is very into introspection and talking through his and other people's problems, and is clearly enthusiastic about the couples therapy sessions he's attended with his wife. Word Of God describes him as embodying feminine ideals to contrast the emotionally closed-off Ponch.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Jon's honest attempts to get Ponch to be more open about his feelings often result in him tactlessly accusing him of having a sex addiction.
  • Interservice Rivalry: A pair of LAPD bicycle patrol officers join a pursuit, only to get mocked by Perez.
  • It's Personal: Ponch's opening case (and his career) are in major jeopardy due to his grudge against the suspect, shooting his partner to get the suspect, naked pictures of the suspect's wife on his phone, his own dick pics on her phone, and his admission of having had sex with said wife. Multiple times.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Ponch was a top FBI agent for a reason; he's a cunning undercover investigator, a good shot, tough in a fight, and claims to be able to drive anything with a motor. While his motorcycle skills are pretty average, the opening sequence shows that he's excellent behind the wheel of a car.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Kurtz is played up as a legitimately serious threat by the plot, is given moments of pathos not seen in other characters, and generally comes across as a very intimidating and respectable villain for what is otherwise a wacky buddy comedy.
  • Kung-Shui: Parish, one of the CHP veterans, threatens our heroes when they have to talk to the dead cop's wife. The second time they go there, they do far more damage to her home than each other (Jon is clearly grabbing more things to break on Parish!)
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Word Of God explicitly compared Ponch and Jon's dynamic to this; with Ponch's technical knowledge and pragmatism embodying "masculine" virtues and Jon's emotional intelligence and insight embodying "feminine" virtues.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Kurtz - a bad shot from Jon hits the same door-busting explosives they used on an armored van, right next to him - and he survives!
    • Jon also qualifies to a lesser extent. While his previous career caused him to sustain so many serious injuries that he has a bum knee and needs to be constantly medicated just to walk, it also gave him a very high pain tolerance, which is further augmented by the metallic plating he has in certain parts of his body.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: We see Jon's package for a few seconds when Ponch accidentally throws him into his bathtub completely naked.
  • Male Gaze: Ponch's crippling obsession with staring at women in yoga pants falls squarely under this.
  • May–December Romance: Ponch sexts and is implied to start a relationship with Captain Lindel, who is played by an actress 21 years his actor's senior.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Downplayed by Ponch, who claims to be an expert with "everything with a motor" but is painfully out of his league when it comes to riding a motorcycle. He's decent enough at driving that it only becomes a real issue when a chase goes off road, though, and he's otherwise shown to be very competent at what he does.
  • The Mole: Officer Taylor is revealed to part of Kurtz's crew.
  • Not so Above It All: Ponch generally plays Straight Man to the more bumbling Jon, but ends up being the dead weight whenever his sex addiction or mediocre motorcycling skills come into play. Of particular note is a scene in which he becomes so distracted by a pair of women in yoga pants that he becomes fully erect and needs Jon to escort him to the nearest bathroom.
    Jon: Are you kidding me right now?
    Ponch: What- what is the- what's the problem?
    Jon: You just said we have to focus, and you're already bird-dogging ass? Ponch, this is a problem.
    Ponch: I'm sorry man. I'm just, like, kinda powerless when it comes to yoga pants, y'know?
  • Obviously Evil: Played for laughs when our heroes narrow down the list of suspects, and they're convinced that it's Kurtz just from his profile pic.
  • Oedipal Complex: Discussed; Jon's main reason for wanting to join the CHP is because his wife Karen's father was a cop and he's hoping to cause her to regain her attraction to him by subconsciously reminding her of him. It doesn't work, but his other potential love interest Officer Perez later states that he reminds her of her father... because he was also an eccentric klutz.
  • Off with His Head!: Kurtz's son is decapitated after he rides into a wire connecting a broken down car to a tow truck.
  • Painted-On Pants: Ponch loses all focus whenever he sees a woman wearing tight-fitting yoga pants. In particular, the sight of a woman in Lululemons, which he describes as "like wrapping on a woman's body", causes him to immediately become fully erect.
  • Raging Stiffie: Ponch becomes fully erect after seeing a pair of shapely women in yoga pants, which forces the duo to take a detour from the case so he can find a bathroom to rub one out in.
    Jon: Are you okay? Do you need to find a toilet?
    [Ponch nods sheepishly]
    Jon: Okay. You think you can ride with that?
    Ponch: I don't know.
    Jon: Let's get you out of this parking lot. You have a visible erection.
  • Really Gets Around: If Ponch isn't having a one night stand, then he's sexting someone before he goes to bed.
  • Remake Cameo: Erik Estrada (the original "Ponch") as a paramedic at the end of the film.
  • Riches to Rags: Jon is a former freestyle motocross star whose wife left him after he lost all his sponsors. He still lives at his home, but his wife's exiled him to the guest house. Later, Karen sells the house without telling Jon, who comes back "home" to see the new owner moving in.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kurtz had been keeping his operation well under the radar for a while... until the sight of his own son dying causes him to go apeshit, running over Jon with his humvee.
  • Romantic False Lead: Jon is motivated to join the CHP to win back the love of his distant wife Karen, but gradually starts a romance with the much kinder Officer Rivera. Ponch also seems to hit it off with Officer Taylor early on, but she is ultimately revealed to be a loyal subordinate of Kurtz and he ends the movie in a relationship with Captain Lindel.
  • Running Gag: To name just a few:
    • Jon attempting to call Karen only to get stonewalled by her answering machine.
    • Jon's weak stomach when walking around other people's houses.
    • Jon constantly sharing Too Much Information about his personal life to strangers.
    • Jon's many attempts at getting Ponch to admit to having a sex addiction.
    • Ponch's crippling addiction to staring at women in yoga pants.
    • Ponch accidentally shooting his former FBI partner Clay.
    • Ponch needing to masturbate on an hourly basis.
    • Ponch's lackluster motorcycle skills when compared to Jon's.
    • Ponch's fondness for ass-eating and Jon's perplexed reactions to it.
    • Ponch's supervisor talking about all of the "juicy LA booty" Ponch could get distracted by.
    • The CHP uniform being mistaken for or compared to a UPS uniform.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: One of the LA bicycle cops when Jon gets run over by Kurtz. So Perez wasn't that far off the mark...
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Jon is emotional and obsessed with playing armchair psychologist to others whereas Ponch is gung-ho and very guarded about his feelings. This is also reflected in their respective romantic dealings, with Jon remaining hung-up on getting back together with his estranged wife and Ponch being a sex addict willing to sleep with Anything That Moves so long as he can get off.
  • Sex Addiction: Jon repeatedly offers Ponch unsolicited advice on him possibly having a sex addiction.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Karen has a scene coming out of the pool in a red swimsuit.
  • Sherlock Scan: Jon is capable of discerning that a dead cop owns multiple properties through several subtle context clues in his house that suggest he doesn't live there full time.
  • Shout-Out: "Where we're going, we don't need doors."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Completely unrealistic, but Played for Laughs.
  • There Was a Door: Invoked and then played for laughs when Jon and Ponch take Kurtz's humvee, crash it out the side of his criminal den... and go straight into the ditch Ponch had just trashed his bike in.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Due to Jon having a massive hangup with entering strangers' homes. And mid-sting-operation is the worst possible time.
  • Vulgar Humor: Jokes about sex and bodily fluids abound.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Most of Karen's screentime features her in a red one-piece with a low neckline.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Ponch's great skills as an FBI agent are in constant danger of being jeopardized by his sex addiction, to the point where he admits to losing all control of himself at the sight of a woman in yoga pants.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Jon is a subdued example. While he almost never brings up his Glory Days as a champion stunt biker, his home is filled with pictures from the time, and his fixation on getting back together with his wife Karen is implied to be a subconscious way for him to continue clinging to his past. When Ponch points this out to him, he's finally able to make the breakthrough he needs to move on.