I had no good reason to watch CHiPS on Saturday night. It was my reluctant choice after a lot of lethargic clicking of the right arrow on my remote control between different titles on Netflix.
The best reason, in fact, was that I had just watched Michael Pena play a police officer in a movie the night before as well.
The night before I watched End of Watch, which had never interested me but which has a decent amount of critical respect (especially compared to some of David Ayer’s other movies, **AHEM** Suicide Squad). Pena stars in that opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. They both play LA cops.
Pena’s CHiPS co-star is Dax Shepard, who is also the film’s director, which should have told me something about what to expect. Dax Shepard may appear in one of my favorite comedies of the 21st century (Idiocracy), but that doesn’t mean I’d trust him to make a movie. In fact, I’d only trust him marginally more than the character he plays in Idiocracy. (And figured what he’d make would be the 21st century version of the 26th century classic Oscar-winner from Idiocracy, known simply as Ass – a feature length shot of an ass farting).
In both instances he’s a cop in Los Angeles, too, though in CHiPS he’s actually on assignment from Miami, secretly infiltrating the California Highway Patrol.
Not that Michael Pena playing a cop is actually particular novel, though his other appearances as a cop are also unseen by me. If I’d wanted to make it a quintuple feature (and if these movies were available on a streaming service to which I subscribe), I also could have seen War on Everyone, Gangster Squad or the remake of Vacation.
For slight variations on this in movies I have seen, Pena plays a security guard in Observe and Report, a border patrol agent in Babel and a detective in My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
Can you say “typecast?”
As for the movies themselves, both disappointed, though I oddly have the slightly more favorable impression of the clearly less good movie. CHiPS was slightly better than I expected it to be, especially since I’d set the bar so low for Dax Shepard. As it turned out, Shepard was more charming than I expected as an actor and, um, perfectly adequate as a director. End of Watch was worse, though probably not a lot worse, than I expected it to be. It was weirdly kind of a cop hagiography, which is especially troubling given that some of what these guys do is questionable at best. Ayer seems be pretty tone deaf in most of his movies, and this was no exception.
Yeah, he can play a cop. No doubt about that.