Film Review: Baywatch
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
I suppose it was inevitable that I would be sitting here writing a review of some oddball remake to the cult tv show “Baywatch.” After all, Hollywood has become so fixated on turning anything with a brand name into a feature length film. And the latest offender, proves that sometimes you don’t need to dust off the ole’ cobwebs, or come up with an inspired script to sell a film to audiences.
“Baywatch” is a mercilessly stupid movie. Which is truly shocking when you have the charisma of Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and director Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”) - ALL whom are known for making funny comedies. Yet, even their macho talent in front of and behind the camera couldn’t save this scattershot remake from a plethora of unfunny gags, and worn out dick jokes.
Johnson stars as Mitch Buchannon, a superhero on the beaches of Cali, where his reputation precedes him (the man has over 500 saves on his record). He is the gung-ho leader of an elite squad of lifeguards, who all take their jobs very seriously. In addition to Mitch, the slo-mo running men and women in red swimwear include Stephanie (IIfenesh Hadera), CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) and a trio of new recruits: Alexandra Daddario plays Summer, the peppy and positive one of the bunch, Jon Bass plays the watered down and overweight forced comic relief (only he never made me laugh once) - and Efron rounds out the squad playing Matt Brody, a two time olympic gold medalist that made some poor decisions and has been sentenced to be a lifeguard as part of his community service (which, in many ways, mirrors the incident that happened with Olympic stud Ryan Lochte last year - at least, I think that was the joke?) Of course, Mitch sees Brody as a hot-shot with no real potential, but his superiors believe him to be good publicity for the beach. Johnson and Efron sell themselves out in this earlier scenes, and go to extra lengths to push the material, and it doesn’t go unnoticed - but the material they are pushing, just isn’t funny.
I’m sorry, but scatological humor can only be stretched for so long, that by the time we get to the second act, it becomes tiring. But, as if to make matters worse, the script penned by “Reno 911” alums Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, tries to evoke a plot. And just as Mitch begins training his co-workers about the fundamentals of being a team, some shfty drugs and mysterious dead bodies start showing up on their shores. The real culprit is “Quantico’s” Priyanka Chopra playing the “Bond” villain out pushing contraband through the city and it’s up to our band of ho-hum lifeguards (now turned FBI investigators) to save the day.
Honestly, I’ve seen better writing on a bottle of sunscreen.
While I commend Gordon for casting Chopra as the sinister villain that our elites must fight against, I have to say that she doesn't amount to much. And that’s speaking for all the girls in this movie, whose sole purpose is to be objectified by wearing tight swimsuits and showing off cleavage. Which will serve the 15 year old audience, but anyone looking for character dynamics look no further. Poor Daddario, she is extremely talented and only gets to be the love interest for Efron. Boring.
It’s abundantly clear that writers are getting lazy, and with the exception of the sensational “21 Jump Street” - these made for theaters tv-adaptations don’t have that much passion. Hell, even the the tongue and cheek cameos by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson aren’t that good. They feel like a wasted opportunity despite the pair scoring top billing in the opening credits.
All things considered, “Baywatch” could have been an excellent film with enough self-referential humor to subdue the thinly written story (as that was the saving grace for the aforementioned “Jump Street” films). Because, let's face it, the source material which inspired this dog, wasn't very good to begin with. And giving the reigns to Johnson and Efron was a smart choice from a marketing standpoint. Still, the biggest disappoint of “Baywatch” was watching the outtakes during the end credits and seeing how much fun everyone was having, and sitting in the theater wondering why we couldn’t have seen that movie instead. D