The film remake of the 1970s series "CHiPs" is already getting lukewarm reviews from fans, the real California Highway Patrol and even one star.
Larry Wilcox, who rode his motorcycle to everlasting fame in the old "CHiPs" show, said that for now, he'll give the benefit of the doubt to "CHIPS," the movie based loosely on the series that made him and Erik Estrada two of the biggest stars of the 1970s and early '80s.
"I have not seen the film but the trailers looked like a soft-porn version of 'Dumb and Dumber,'" said the 69-year-old actor. "However, I hear the actors are both very talented and funny, so maybe it all works."
"CHiPs" ran from 1977 to 1983.
Fans of the original "CHiPs," still widely seen in reruns and on DVD, are far less forgiving. They've been posting angry messages all over the internet since the first trailers for the R-rated action comedy emerged, calling it garbage and disrespectful to police officers everywhere.
In a lengthy "open letter" to actor Dax Shepard, Sue Walsh of New York accuses the film's writer, director and co-star of mocking the original show with a remake filled with nudity, sexual jokes and raunchy bathroom humor.
"'CHiPs' was not just a '70s cop show. It wasn't Shakespeare, no, but it did and does mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people," said Walsh, who is organizing a 40th anniversary reunion of the show this fall that most of the original cast is expected to attend.
To the thump of a persistent disco track, CHP Sgt. Jon Baker (Wilcox) and Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello (Estrada) kept busy rescuing people from cars, occasionally solving folks' personal problems and frequently chasing down miscreants before carting them off to jail without ever drawing their weapons.
"I know that there are people that grew up watching 'CHiPs' and that was part of the reason they decided to join the department," said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader. "I watched it when I was growing up."
In the film version, however, Shepard and Michael Pena's Baker and Ponch are anything, but straight arrows. They accidentally destroy vehicles, cause fiery crashes, blow stuff up and sometimes shoot the wrong people.
"I understand it's a broad comedy," said Clader, adding she hasn't seen the film and won't offer an opinion on the trailer.
She said the CHP did grant the producers some technical assistance, for which the agency was reimbursed. But there's also this disclaimer at the beginning of "CHIPS": "This film is not endorsed by the California Highway Patrol. At all." And sharp-eyed fans will notice the title punctuation of "CHIPS" was changed from the original "CHiPs," further distancing the film from the department.
Estrada, who has a cameo, did not respond to multiple phone and email messages. But in a video clip from a recent premiere, he described it as "a movie you have to view with your adult sense of humor."
As for Wilcox, he said he'll probably see it — eventually.
"I think I will wait for the video," he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.