Hold on to your helmets, folks, because Ponch and John are staging a comeback, and this time they’ll be bringing their non-violent motorcycle-cop dramedy antics to the silver screen. Even better? According to The Hollywood Reporter, none other than Vincent D’Onofrio has been cast as the film’s villain.
For those unfamiliar (read: younger than 35) CHiPs was an uproariously stylized American TV series that aired on NBC from 1977 – 1983. The show followed the adventures of LA-based California Highway Patrol officers (CHiPs, get it?) Francis “Ponch” Poncharello (Eric Estrada), and Jonathan “Jon” Baker (Larry Wilcox) as they rescued motorists from burning vehicles, chased down kidnappers, and otherwise thwarted the evil plans of various bad guys. Like many shows of its era (we’re looking at you, A-Team) there was virtually no violence involved, with as much subtle comedy written in as adventure.
The upcoming film, according to Deadline, is helmed by Dax Shepard (Employee of the Month, Zathura, Parenthood) who is not only writing the script and directing the film, but acting in the role of Jon Baker. Ponch, meanwhile, will be played by Michael Peña (Fury, American Hustle). The plot is expected to involve an exotic car theft ring, though further details are being kept tighter than a bad pair of prop handcuffs.
D’Onofrio, who is expected to play the theft ring’s leader, has his bad-guy chops well honed having just wrapped his role as the villain Kingpin in Netflix’s wildly successful adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil. While the actor has worked in notable feature films in the past (Full Metal Jacket, Men in Black, Ed Wood) D’Onofrio is probably best known for his 10 years as Detective Robert Goren on the popular NBC show, Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Given Shepard’s prior work as a Ashton-Kutcher’s jokester sideman on MTV’s Punk’d, and more recent comedic roles in films like Hit and Run, it’s hard to imagine the new CHiPs film as anything other than a raucous, joke-filled tear across the tarmac of Los Angeles — and if that turns out to be the case, that’s just fine with us. If the film can tread the same line of hilarity and nostalgia as the similarly stylized ’70s reboot of Starsky and Hutch from Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson (an under-rated film in our book), it could be a pretty fun ride.
As the film is still in the pre-production phase, no release date has been disclosed. Stay tuned for developments as they unfold.