Baywatch is directed by Seth Gordon and is based on the TV series of the same name that starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. The film stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrback, and Jon Bass. David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson make cameo appearances in the film.
Of all the reboots, remakes, sequels, and any other movie based off of a specific thing that was popular at some previous point in time, Baywatch is yet another fine example of all those said films that fit snugly into the undesirable category of movies that most people look at and say, "Ummm....why?" It's not like the good movie goers of the world were flooding the streets with pitchforks and torches in hand, banging on Hollywood's doors and demanding a Baywatch movie. Since 2004, there have been discussions and efforts to make a Baywatch film, but the movie could never get out of development hell, going through multiple writers and several different drafts and even a change of director. Until finally writers David Shannon and Mark Swift got a script to go through, with Seth Gordon assigned as director and Dwayne Johnson placed in the lead role. Shannon and Swift's script made sure that the film was comedic in style, because how could it not be? This is based off of a 90's TV show whose most noteworthy moments were its attractive stars (particularly the female ones) wearing tight swimwear and running in slow motion. And now under the guise of the 21st century, you can take an educated guess as to where this movie is going to take that.
I have never watched any of the Baywatch series, because I was just a little toddler when the show was going through its original run. My understanding is that the show largely consisted of its lifeguard characters being on duty and doing whatever it took to keep their beach safe, dealing with conflicts like earthquakes, shark attacks, and even serial killers. And while Baywatch wasn't a comedy show per se, I'm quite positive that it had comedic moments to nicely balance with the show's more serious, dramatic moments. Now as for the movie, any and all potential for serious, no nonsense drama is off the table, with the movie betting all of its chips on wringing out every last drop of comedic potential that comes with toned men and women saving lives on a beach. That of course means a lot of jokes involving specific body parts (can you guess which ones?), because where else other than a beach, a place where people wear particularly less clothing than normal, would said body parts be magnified?
At the helm of the Beach of Butts, Breasts, and Nut Sacks, otherwise known as Emerald City, Florida, is Mitch Buchanon (Dwayne Johnson), a lieutenant who oversees a team of lifeguards and is praised and adored by the local community, having made over 500 rescues during his career. Mitch also leads the charge in choosing new lifeguard trainees, and, at the most recent tryouts, three people are selected. They are Summer (Alexandra Daddario), a surfer girl, Ronnie (Jon Bass), a chubby geek who has the hots for Baywatch veteran C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), and Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a two time Olympic gold medalist whose athletic career fell apart after a vomiting debacle in an Olympic relay race. Brody now must perform community service as part of a plea deal, which is what brings him to Baywatch in the first place. Brody makes various attempts to try and convince Mitch that he is worthy of being a part of the Baywatch team, but Mitch continuously rebuffs him, not believing that Brody is a team player. While that's going on, Mitch finds a tiny bag containing drugs, washed up near the Baywatch Huntley Club, which is owned by businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). The mystery plot thickens when a dead body washes ashore on the beach, and Mitch soon suspects that something dangerous is afoot in Emerald City.
- All the right people are casted for a raunchy comedy like this one, especially Dwayne Johnson, who is stepping things up a notch above his standard PG-13 choices. Johnson is one of the best in the business today when it comes to delivering effective one liners while still keeping up with the punching and fighting that is normally required of him (I think of him as the next Arnold Schwarzenegger). He is the one saving grace in this movie, managing to keep everything afloat even when the movie seems to be treading water. The role of Mitch Buchanon would fit someone who has a beefy enough physique while still being able to convey a sense of leadership. The Rock has the physique and knows how to be a leader. You couldn't have asked for a more perfect fit.
- Baywatch is heavily hampered by its half-baked screenplay. Not even The Rock's wonderful charisma can save it. Hardly any of the jokes land with at least an ounce of payoff (those that do come from Dwayne Johnson), with the comedy primarily settling for supposedly humorous encounters between characters that revolve around the awkwardness stemmed by the mentioning and handling of those specific body parts that I mentioned earlier. Matt Brody shows an obvious crush for Summer, and their first one-on-one conversation boils down to Brody staring at Summer's breasts and her calling him out on it. This is followed up on later by Summer returning the favor and supposedly staring at Brody's genitals. One scene that the movie kept milking and milking was when Ronnie started choking on some food and then develop an erection when C.J. Parker comes over and starts doing abdominal thrusts behind him. In an attempt to hide his erection, Ronnie dives forward onto a wooden beach chair, only to have his genitals swell up and get stuck. This brings the attention of Mitch and many other beach-goers, all adding up to a 5 minute scene that could be easily resolved in 90 seconds. And then of course is a scene in which Brody must check under the scrotum of a dead man's body, which is more disgusting than it is funny.
It's not just all the comedy aspects that the screenplay fudges; it's the action parts too. This is no more evident than in a rescue operation done by Mitch and his team, in which they rescue a man and two women from a burning boat. Mitch is successfully able to navigate the boat and rescue everyone, despite the fact that he carries out the rescue mission shirtless and is able to come away with no significant burns or wounds to speak of whatsoever. The fire on the boat is so painfully CGI that it almost hurts to look at.
Any and all positives that one could find in Baywatch are bound to be plagued by the screenplay, the main culprit in what keeps the movie from being decent. The humor has the depth of a kiddie pool, with Dwayne Johnson being the only one capable of providing at least a few chuckles. It's a movie about attractive people doing dangerous things, even though the movie's primary go-to for putting asses in the seats is showing off and poking fun at those body parts. After all, it's just so funny to talk about butts, breasts, and penises like they were casual jokes one would share at a family gathering. Credit Baywatch for not attempting to hide anything by going shamelessly for an R-rating, but don't even think about crediting it for being clever, original, or even necessary. Modern day comedy is already bad enough as it is, and Baywatch makes no effort in helping the cause.
Recommend? No, even if you watched the TV show
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