“Party” is the one word Dax Shepard (“The Judge”) used to describe his upcoming movie “CHiPS,” which he wrote, directed and acts in.
The film is an action-packed comedy filled with motorcycle races and police investigations in the heart of Los Angeles. Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña, “Collateral Beauty”) are two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers who must join forces in order to figure out who within CHP is behind the million-dollar heist.
Ponch is a workaholic as an undercover FBI agent and he takes a pragmatic approach to his job. Baker, on the other hand, is inexperienced and immature, focused on keeping his marriage and life together.
“Both guys could easily foil the other one’s dream,” Shepard said.
Baker and Ponch may not see eye to eye, but in real life, Shepard and Peña interacted as close friends, with constant friendly banter. Both wearing plaid, this dynamic duo looked like real-life best friends.
“The whole thing felt like we stole a case of beer and we kept getting closer and closer to the door,” Shepard said. At any moment, they both felt as if someone would stop them in their quest to create this fun film.
“There’s been a stunning lack of motorcycle chase movies … [because] they are really hard to film,” Shepard said. “CHiPS” used drones, helicopters and new technology specifically for the movie.
Shepard did a lot of his own motorcycle stunts, including wheelies, riding on the beach and going up and down stairs. Peña had never ridden a motorcycle before, but learned to say lines while moving at over 75 miles per hour.
“I can die. This is real … [Shepard] was proud of me like a dad” Peña said about his motorcycle experience on set. He remarked that he was more of a golf guy.
College students may find this movie more relatable than it seems. The plot includes typical millennial follies, like sexting and FaceTiming the wrong person.
“That’s going on hourly I think on your campus,” Shepard said.
“I think this generation is definitely the generation of who wears the most yoga pants,” Peña, whose character has a penchant for tight clothing, said.
Both actors also had advice for students who may be wishing to pursue a career in acting, music or art.
“Just do, do, do,” Peña said. No matter what artistic field you are seeking, “you gotta find your voice.”
“You don’t get better at anything by thinking about it,” Shepard said on the subject. Action is key.
“My biggest passion is cars and motorcycles. Second to that is comedy. I’m praying that I can marry those two things together [in the movie],” Shepard said.
“CHiPS”, though based on the late 1970’s TV show of the same name, surely holds its own.
“I wanted it to be its own thing,” Shepard said. “[I was] aiming towards “Bad Boys” or “Lethal Weapon.””
Though it takes place in the present, “CHiPS” refrains from using any contemporary music.
“I can’t stand when you see a movie that you love from a time period but it’s so time stamped by those pop 40 songs that they put in the movie that I find distracting, because they don’t age well. Every song in this movie has really stood the test of time,” said Shepherd, highlighting the song choice of “Rosanna” by Toto, used in the film.
Shepard seems to add his own special mark to all his movies. In Hollywood, he is known for his ability to create high-grossing action movies out of a fairly low budget. The film “Hit and Run,” for example, made $14 million off a $1 million budget.
“The action looks way, way bigger than the budget would suggest. That weirdly is now my sort of niche calling card,” Shepard said.
After this movie, Peña is on to other works such as a movie that shoots in Serbia for 2 months, as well as “Ant-Man 2.”
As for Shepard, one can only guess where he is headed.
“Retirement,” Shepard said, with somewhat of a knowing smirk on his face.
“CHiPS” will open this Friday in theaters.