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CHIPS


Dax Shepard and Michael Pena star in a scene from the movie "Chips." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Get your motor running, spring yourself from a cage out on Highway 9, do whatever it takes to get away from the mind-numbing, motorcycle-bedecked comedy "CHIPS" (Warner Bros.).

The humor in this twist on the 1977-1983 NBC-TV drama series quickly skids off the road and into the gutter, where it remains.

Dax Shepard, who also wrote and directed, plays rookie California Highway Patrol officer Jon Baker while Michael Pena portrays Jon's first partner -- and odd-couple counterpart -- Frank "Ponch" Poncherello. Supposedly a veteran of the force from another part of the state, Ponch is in fact an undercover FBI agent investigating a corruption case.

As Jon makes a nudge of himself and Ponch gripes about it (until of course, the two inevitably bond), the script lurches from one base topic to another. We visit a locker room where the awkwardness of two straight men embracing while dressed only in their underwear is both played for laughs and discussed: Is being uncomfortable with such a gesture symptomatic of homophobia? Yes, no, ha, ha ha.

We stroll through more than one parking lot so that Ponch -- and, needless to say, the camera -- can ogle women in yoga pants as they bend over to put something in the trunk. We already know that Ponch is a philanderer since, as the opening sequence has shown us, he has to write down the name of the girl in bed with him lest he forget it in the morning.

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