Dan's Review: "Baywatch" a polluted beach of bad humor
May 25, 2017 10:25AM
● By Dan Metcalf
Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Zac Efron, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, and Kelly Rohrbach in Baywatch - © 2017 Paramount Pictures.
Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera, Priyanka Chopra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rob Huebel, Hannibal Buress, Belinda, Jack Kesy, Amin Joseph, Izabel Goulart, Charlotte McKinney, Arian Foster, Seth Gordon, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson.
Written by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, based on the TV series by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann.
Directed by Seth Gordon.
For a few decades, the Hollywood “machine” has been churning out movies based on old TV series, hoping to cash in on known characters and brands. This trend has continued for so long that studios are running out of TV series of any notoriety, even mining deep into short-lived or really bad TV shows. The “classic” status of these “old” shows is suspect, too (see: March’s release of CHiPs). We’ve arrived at a point where Baywatch, a failed 1989 NBC series that saw major worldwide success in syndication during the 1990s has achieved enough “classic” status to warrant a film adaptation.
Dwayne Johnson stars as Mitch Buchannon, leader of the “Baywatch” team of lifeguards, supposedly keeping swimmers safe on the beaches of Emerald Bay. With his sidekicks, Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach), Mitch oversees the recruitment of Baywatch trainees eager to join the “elite of the elite” team of lifeguards. One of the hopefuls is Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced Olympic gold medal winner assigned to the team by Mitch’s boss (Rob Heubel) as a publicity stunt to help the save the “Baywatch brand.” Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddorio) and Ronnie (Jon Bass), a chubby tech genius with awesome dance moves are also added to the team. When Mitch suspects Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is using her beach club as a front to run drugs into the country, he and the Baywatch team perform an investigation, despite being constantly reminded that they are lifeguards (not cops) by local beach officer Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). There is inner-team conflict when Brody resorts to the selfish ways that caused him to fall from Olympic glory. Despite their differences and limitations of not being actual cops, the team forges ahead in their drug running investigation, leading to an explosive finale.
There’s no way to put this lightly: Baywatch is a terrible film, based on a terrible TV show. The self-aware “comedy” of the limited premise behind the duties of a lifeguard is a special brand of movie drudgery, like that guy who wanders around a party, telling the same (bad) joke for hours. Baywatch straddles to line between full parody and series reboot, coming across as a constant reminder that the TV show’s only reason for existence was an excuse to allow really attractive people to run in slow-motion toward a camera, with their body parts rippling and jiggling. In fact, the characters often refer to this slow-motion reality, reminding us once again of Baywatch’s singular mission.
Most of the Baywatch script appears to be ripped directly from the TV show (especially the contrived crime plot), except the parts where characters “freelance” dialogue, insulting each other in some sort of “yo momma” competition. This kind of humor might work in the locker room, but not on screen.
I haven’t even mentioned the gross, disgusting content in Baywatch. It’s full of bad language, comedic gore, nudity, sex and a few failed sight gags including Ronnie’s chubby nature and genitalia prevalent in Baywatch. This kind of low comedy is growing stale, and seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator of sex, body functions and foul language, intended to cover up the reality that your movie stinks.
So, avoid Baywatch as you would avoid the beach after an oil spill. It’s just as messy.