While it doesn't happen 100% of the time, Hollywood has a bit of a pattern when it comes to adapting classic action television shows for the big screen. Whether it's 21 Jump Street, The Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky And Hutch, audiences have seen a surprising amount of dramatic material get really silly and comedic when the material is retrofitted as a feature. Because of these examples, it would be understandable if people thought the same thing of the upcoming CHIPs movie... but that actually isn't the case. Instead, it was writer/director Dax Shepard's intention from the start to always emphasize the film's chases and shootouts, and for the humor to really just function as a bonus.
The subject of tone in the CHIPs movie was something that came up in conversation with Dax Shepard all the way back in December 2015, when I joined a small group of film journalists to visit the set of the upcoming film while it was still in production. Discussing the many aspects of the film with the writer/director/producer/star, one question that came up was whether or not the adaptation would be playing up the campiness of the original television show, which ran from 1977 to 1983. Shepard stressed that this was something that the production definitely wasn't doing, and that while there would definitely be laughs featured, that wasn't the reason he set out to make the film. He explained,
I'd say this one is action first and comedy second - which is not to say I don't put as much energy into... well, that's not exactly accurate. It takes a lot more energy to do the action, and as much thought has gone into both, but I think I'd rather go into a movie expecting an action movie and then end up laughing a lot more than I anticipated, as opposed to going into a comedy and then there's all this inexplicable action. It's just a weird mindset for me... It takes itself seriously. The bad guys are very scary. Vincent D'Onofrio is a fucking beast and should be feared, and everyone in it is really skilled dramatic actors, for the most part, doing comedy, which is generally my favorite kind of comedy.
It is noteworthy that while Dax Shepard himself is more experienced in comedy than anything, he has surrounded himself with a cast of very talented serious actors. As the filmmaker himself pointed out, Vincent D'Onofrio is really the big name at the top of that list, but he's also working alongside both Michael Pena and Kristen Bell. That being said, all of those actors also have a number of funny performances and titles on their resumes, so we definitely don't expect that CHIPs will be too short on laughs.
For your viewing pleasure, you can get a taste of the tone of the upcoming CHIPs movie by checking out the trailer below:
We are now less than a month away from the release of CHIPs, which is set to arrive in theaters on March 24th. In the meantime, be sure to keep coming back to CinemaBlend, as we'll have plenty more about the movie from our interviews with the film's fantastic cast, including this story on Dax Shepard's bizarre inspiration for the film!