But what about the traffic?
Today in “everything old is new again” news, Deadline reports that Dax Shepard is set to write, direct, and star in a big screen take on CHiPS, the punchline-friendly television series of the seventies and eighties about California’s Highway Patrol. Shepard will reportedly play Jon Baker (originally played by Larry Wilcox in the series), with Michael Pena on board to take up the mantle of Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (memorably played by Erik Estrada on the show).
As Deadline notes, this is not the first time that Warner Bros. has tried to make the series work as a full-length feature reboot, sharing a weirdly funny story about the last time they went great guns on such a film:
The studio tried it years ago, after That ’70s Show star Wilmer Valderrama showed up in the office of exec Greg Silverman (who’s now running production at the studio). Dressed in the signature tight-fitting uniform, Valderrama merely said, “Funny, right?” — and he walked out with a deal and an intention to play Ponch. Apparently it wasn’t funny enough because while TV shows from that era such as Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes Of Hazzard got movie transfers, CHiPS stalled.
Well, points to Valderrama for trying.
Despite the attachment of Shepard, the film is not expected to be a straight up comedy — this is not going to be another Starsky & Hutch situation — and the tone of the film has been likened to both the Bad Boys and the Lethal Weapon franchises. So, yes, certainly funny, but with actual action and genuine stakes. Adding to that action? Shepard — who happens to be “a professional driver of race cars and motorcycles” — wants to perform his own stunts.
The CHiPS series originally aired on NBC from 1977 to 1983, with six seasons and 139 episodes. Although the show was classified as a police procedural, it always included some lightness in the form of comedy — which sounds like the exact formula Shepard and Warner Bros. are going for (again, versus something like the 2004 take on Starsky & Hutch, which starred Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, and played the entire thing for laughs).
Shepard has previously directed two features: the goofy Brother’s Justice and the action comedy Hit and Run (which sounds like it could set the pace for his CHiPS). There’s no word on when we can expect to see this big screen version of the series, but it certainly sounds like Shephard and company have gotten much further along than Wilmer Valderrama and his tight pants ever did.
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