From 1977 to 1983 California Highway Patrol officers Jon Baker and “Ponch” Poncherello kept the highways and byways of Los Angeles safe with a mix of motorcycles, Brut cologne and wholesome machismo. “CHiPS” was a big TV hit and is now a big screen movie starring Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as unorthodox motorcycles cops. The Brut and the wholesomeness are gone in this raunchy update but the motorcycles and machismo survived.
Shepard, who also wrote and directed, stars as Jon Baker, a free spirited ex-motorcycle daredevil. His marriage is on the rocks, but he hopes if he becomes a police officer his wife will fall back in love with him.
Baker is teamed up with a seasoned FBI agent working undercover as Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Peña). Seems the feds needed two outsiders to infiltrate the California Highway Patrol and bust some dirty cops who robbed 12 million dollars in a daring daylight robbery.
The unlikely duo don’t hit it off right away, but Baker’s skills on the hog and Ponch’s experience make them an effective, if untraditional team. Cue the chase scenes and sex jokes.
In Shepard’s hands “CHIPS” is a mix of motorcycles and masturbation, homophobic jokes and gratuitous nudity. It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “CHIPS.” It is a remake of a TV show although Erik Estrada, star of the original series and who also appears in the film, took to twitter to blast the remake as “demeaning” to long time “CHiPS” fans.
It could also be filed under the comedy category although I’d suggest the action sequences are more successful than the attempts at humour.
To recap: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
It’s a comedy—there is a paparazzi joke that made me laugh hard—but it’s a lowest common denominator comedy. I like a poop joke as much as anyone, but there have to be peaks and valleys. Shepard aims low, then goes lower. If you like a certain amount of shame with your cheap laughs then “CHIPS” is for you.
When the movie isn’t commenting on Ponch’s bathroom habits it is laying rubber. The crime story isn’t terribly complicated or interesting but the guys tear up the pavement with a handful of pretty good chase scenes. They are frenetic and it’s not always possible to tell exactly who is who, but the scenes add some zip to the story.
“CHIPS” is not your father’s “CHiPS.” It’s a kinda-sorta action comedy that revels in its rudeness at the expense of paying tribute to the source material.
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Three audience members get ambushed by Alexis Honce with a purse intervention; Five steps to glowing skin; Actress Malin Akerman on season two of “Billions”; Malin cooks sweet potato burgers with Chef Rodney Bowers; Must-see films before the Oscars.
Paterson, the new movie from director Jim Jarmusch is a week in the life of Paterson, the man and the place.
Adam Driver plays Paterson, a poetry writing New Jersey bus driver from Paterson, New Jersey. He lives with Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a dreamer who wants to open a cupcake shop and make them rich and their dog Marvin.
Paterson is a wonderfully leisurely movie. There are small conflicts sprinkled throughout, a bus breaks down and lovers quarrel, but Paterson isn’t about that. It’s about gentle, loving performances from Driver and Farahani and the beauty of overheard conversations and the day-to-day of regular life.
After the success of Star Wars and everything else you’ve been in recently, you must get offered every script out there. Why choose this one?
Jim [Jarmusch]. It’s a director’s medium so if I get lucky enough to work with great directors, that’s the only thing as far as a game plan I have. I have gotten to do that with really great people and it feels good. I’m lucky in that I get to choose things now, but choose things from what I’m offered. The scale doesn’t matter.
So it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting for twenty days or you’re gone for six months? Is it just the love of acting?
Yes. It’s a very strange job. It seems you get to do your job twenty percent of the time and then you talk about it forever. For me the doing of it is the best. The things surrounding it don’t matter. Trailers, money, they don’t matter if you get to work with really great people. Then hopefully what you’re making is bigger than any one person and it feels relevant, as much as you can attach meaning to your job. The love of collaborating with people who are on the same page and want to make the best version of it is really exciting.
I think you can attach meaning. Movies like this are worth talking about…
I don’t like to say what meaning I attach to my work. Half of the experience of watching a play or something in a movie theatre is that everyone is coming from somewhere else. No one lives inside the movie theatre. They’re bring all their baggage and if they’re coming there not ready to be affected then they probably won’t be affected. But whatever meaning they pick out of the movie, that means something to them or doesn’t mean anything to them, is completely subjective.
A movie like Paterson is a beautiful slice of life but it is probably going to speak to the audience that will be very different from say, Suicide Squad, but Paterson isn’t going to make $165 million in its opening weekend.
But for me that makes it valid and interesting.
Really great movies have a longer shelf life. You come back to them later and find new things in them. So many times, and this is so obvious, you watch a movie and you’re not ready for it and you come back to it later because you’re a different person and suddenly it speaks to you in a different way. When they are well crafted they have that shelf life whereas a lot of things are made for one weekend.
The title “Hidden Figures” has a double meaning, On one hand it refers to the mathematical calculations that went in to making John Glenn the first American man into space in 1962. On the other hand it describes Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three African-American NASA mathematicians who did many of those calculations. “They let women do things at NASA,” says Johnson, “and it’s not because we wear skirts, it’s because we wear glasses.”
Taraji P. Henson is Katherine Johnson, a math prodigy who can, “look beyond the numbers.” At the beginning of 1961 she, and her two car pool pals, mathematician Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and aerospace engineer Jackson (Janelle Monáe), were working in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center.
With just weeks before the launch each are singled out. Johnson’s genius with analytic geometry lands her a spot with the Space Task Group to calculate launches and landings. Vaughn takes over the programming of the new IMB computer and Jackson works with on the Mercury capsule prototype.
Each face hurdles do to their race. When Johnson first walks into her new, shared workspace, one of the men hands her an overflowing garbage can. “This wasn’t emptied last night.” Personnel supervisor Mrs. Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) thinks Vaughan is too aggressive in her requests for a supervisor’s position and Jackson, despite her degree, is told she can only become a NASA qualified engineer if she attends classes at a local, segregated high school. “Every time we have a chance to get ahead,” Jackson says, “ they move the finish line.”
The film focuses on Johnson but by the time the end credits roll all three have risen above the societal challenges placed on them to make invaluable contributions to the NASA space program.
“Hidden Figures” is a feel good, crowd pleaser of a movie. Based on true events, it portrays an upbeat version of the past. It’s set in the same time frame as “Loving,” Jeff Nichols’ recent look at the legalization of interracial marriage, but values broad moments over Nichols’ more nuanced approach. A blend of history and uplift it is occasionally a bit too on the money—“We are living the impossible,” says Jackson’s boss Karl Zielinski (Olek Krupa)—but engages with its subject and characters in an entertaining and heartfelt way.
Henson is the movie’s center and soul. Even when she slips into slapstick while doing extended runs to the “Coloured Bathroom” in a building located blocks away from her office. Those scenes are played for comedy but make an important point about the treatment of African American people in a less enlightened time.
Monáe is a feisty presence and Spencer brings a hard-earned dignity to Vaughan. In the supporting category Kevin Costner does nice, effortless work as Al Harrison, head of the Space Task Group.
“Hidden Figures” details a little known but vitally important part of American history. It’s a good-hearted look at a time of great change both in the macro—American cultural shifts in the space race and in terms of race—and in the micro universe of how African American women made their mark at NASA.
Few sports teams have fans as enthusiastic as those who enjoy, nay, worship Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club. “Celtic Soul,” a new documentary from director Michael McNamara, showcases two soccer supporters as they travel two continents and three countries to make it to see a match in paradise a.k.a. Celtic Park.
“Goon” star Jay Baruchel and sports broadcaster Eoin O’Callaghan began the journey as twitter friends. After two years of chatting 140 characters at a time the pair became friends when O’Callaghan came to Montreal to visit the actor. That turned into the first leg of a journey that would take them from Quebec’s Bell Centre, home ice of the Canadiens, to Dublin’s Croke Park, one of Europe’s largest sports stadiums where they try hurling, a forerunner to hockey.
They will go on to travel across country to Cairnryan, Scotland making their way to Glasgow, home town of the Celtic FC, but first they stop off at Westport, County Mayo to trace Baruchel’s Irish roots.
“Celtic Soul” is, in its soul, a buddy movie. Like all good sports movies it isn’t really about the sport, it’s about a more universal truth. It’s about the where the sport came from, what it means to its fans and why it is part of the fabric of people’s lives. Baruchel and O’Callaghan are welcoming hosts whose infectious enthusiasm gives the documentary the giddy feel of a really good home travel movie. Natural and unaffected, they invite the viewer in, whether they’re a footy fan or not.