In the modern era, in which all previously created material must be mined in order to produce a feature film, eventually you end up with some fairly oddball choices. When the news hit that the CHiPs reboot was moving forward many of us probably had the same feeling: Get ready for another comedy remake based on corny material. Well, we just got some new info on the movie and it looks we’re in for something completely different.
In an interview with Collider, Michael Pena, who will play Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, spoke a bit about the tone the movie was going for, and it’s not comedy. He said:
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 .
To confirm the Lethal Weapon comparison, Pena specifically says the movie is looking for an R rating. While the Lethal Weapon movies got slightly lighter in tone over the four films in the series (with the addition of Joe Pesci and Chris Rock in the latter films), they were all rated R, and the original is absolutely not a comedy. Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs, half of the leading pair with Danny Glover, was also played a bit more for laughs in the sequels but plays a much more clearly disturbed individual in the 1987 original. If CHiPs ends up looking a lot like Lethal Weapon expect any humor to be black.
This is a significant change from similar properties that have received the feature film treatment in recent years. When viewed through a modern lens many TV shows from the 70’s and 80’s like The Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky and Hutch are seen as too silly to be taken seriously. The solution has been to turn the film versions into a straight comedies rather than to attempt to modernize the drama. It would surprise absolutely nobody if the same tactic was taken with CHiPs.
So now it looks like we’re getting ready for a much grittier action/drama surrounding the California Highway Patrol. Are you looking forward to seeing what writer/director Dax Shepard, who will also star as the other half of the leading pair, Jon Baker, can do by taking a serious look at the original material, or is such an idea doomed to failure?