Some things are inevitable. The sun sets, the tides rise, and the full moon inexorably bring out a number of truly crazy sons-of-bitches who — without fail — make for some truly memorable case logs for law enforcement officials near and far. Another thing that is entirely unavoidable is the reunion movie: that all-too-common gathering of performers who used to entertain audiences who join together once more for one final hoorah (or to try and promote a remake). During the late ’90s, as many a fool parted with his money in preparation for what they believed was the inevitable conclusion of life as we know it, several popular film and TV series decided to capitalize on the numbers game.
Not those kind of numbers, kids. I’m talkin’ instead about movies (theatrical or otherwise) bearing monikers such as Blues Brothers 2000, Total Recall 2070, and — our guest of honor this evening — CHiPs ’99.
Fifteen years after the demise of the popular television series CHiPs, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox weren’t really doing too terribly much. Wilcox had founded both a production and marketing company as well as appeared in TV features nobody seemed to notice. Estrada, on the other hand, was notable for being the only person of Hispanic/Latino descent to not speak Spanish — a language he had to pick up in record time in order to land a part in a telenovela in order to pay his bills. So, when the TNT Network waved some cash in the air to reunite, both parties shouted an exceptionally enthusiastic “Hellz to da mutherfucking yes!” (or something to that affect) and signed on the dotted line.
Sadly, neither of them demanded to take a look at the script first. But then, when you’ve done very little more than television work for years on end, it’s hard to differentiate between what makes a good television series and what makes a TV movie worthwhile. Or so I can only guess. I’m kidding either way, of course, kids: any chance to see Estrada and Wilcox put on those helmets and ride those motorized two-wheelers again is one to invest some time in for that reason alone. The very fact that the story is so silly is just extra icing on the cheesecake.
So, anyway, the story here finds Ponch re-joining the force and being assigned under his old pal, Jon — who has since landed a cushiony Captain job. Needless to say, it’s only a matter of time before the two are in it knee-deep as they go wheel-to-wheel with a group of really bad car-jackers — an organization of vileness led, naturally, by a chick with big hooters (Claudette Mink). Expect lots of high-speed chases (Wilcox does some of his own stuntwork in one bit, which definitely earns him some brownie points), things going boom, and a few familiar faces from the original series, including Robert Pine, Brodie Greer, and Bruce Penhall. Oh, and lots of cheese. Miles of it, in fact.
The only real disappointment here — aside from a general lack of overall coherence and the fact that the title probably won’t appeal to anyone except for those of you who are on make for a enjoyably-dumb reunion flick in the first place — is that Erik Estrada doesn’t get to make out with so much as one chick in CHiPs ’99. Frankly, I find that hard to believe, especially seeing as how he’s sportin’ a gorgeous head of salt-and-pepper hair here (and ladies love that silver fox look, you know!). But then, most of the movie doesn’t make sense (such as how Ponch winds up back in L.A. from where he starts out at in the TV film).
Of course, reunion movies rarely make sense, so just kick back and enjoy it, kids.
The Warner Archive Collection unveils CHiPs ’99 on DVD-R in a thoroughly-pleasing transfer that presents the movie in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio with 2.0 Dolby Digital English audio. A promotional bumper for the piece is the only special feature you’ll find here, and it’s kind of hard to tell when it was pieced together — unlike our main feature itself, that is, which is about as late ’90s as you can possibly get without stocking up on food and arms grooming yourself for Y2K.