Review: Baywatch

Director: Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Identity Thief, Freakonomics, Four Christmases)
Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Producers: Michael Berk, Gregory J. Bonann, Beau Flynn, Ivan Reitman, Douglas Schwartz
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach,
Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 116 min.



My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd


After the first two minutes of Baywatch I thought to myself that this has to be the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Trying to process the life decisions that had led me to pay $12 to put myself through this experience, I reasoned that surely it could only get better from there. No more than ten minutes later there was a scene lasting five whole minutes (it felt like hours) wherein the walking fat joke of a character (who nevertheless becomes a full-fledged lifeguard because he has “determination”) gets his erect penis and testicles stuck in between the panels of a wooden beach chair and a hot female lifeguard and Dwayne Johnson proceed to try and coach him through the situation while a beach worth of spectators look on and take video with their phones. Needless to say, Baywatch never did get better.

Purportedly trying to emulate the success of the Jump Street movies by taking a dated television property and turning it into a tongue-in-cheek blockbuster action comedy that’s aware of how ridiculous it is, Baywatch seemingly forgot to have any kind of awareness or really any comedy. Occasionally Zac Efron’s dimwit Olympic gold medal winning athlete turned disgraced rookie lifeguard will make a comment about how this is a job for the police, which is quickly dismissed as the elite squad of lifeguards try to take down the movie’s big bad villain Priyanka Chopra and her plan to buy up beach real estate to smuggle drugs. How captivating.

Another key to the Jump Street movies that Baywatch forgot to include was any actual comedy. You’d think by that I would mean that the movie tries to be funny and fails, but no what I mean is that there are barely even any attempts at comedy in this garbage fire of a movie. Speaking of fire, there’s a scene with a giant fire encompassing a yacht in the middle of the ocean that features honestly the absolute worst CGI I have ever seen in a major studio movie. It is… astonishing beyond words. Back to the point though, if the Jump Street movies were roughly 80% comedy and 20% action, Baywatch reverses that ratio and probably ups it to about 95% action and 5% comedy. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen almost every single “joke” that is present over the course of this movie, barring the aforementioned boner chair incident, and I guess the four or five dozen times that Johnson totally rips Efron by calling him absolutely hilarious and totally culturally relevant nicknames like “New Kids on the Block” and “*NSYNC”.

Instead of the self-aware stylings of the Jump Street series, Baywatch takes itself unbelievably seriously every step of the way, and this is a movie that is based on a television series whose popularity was entirely based on watching large breasted women in swimsuits running in slow motion on the beach, of which there is plenty here. That being said, in the movie’s one surprising twist, despite an R rating ripe for some knowing jokes about how a network television show entirely built around T & A could never actually show either, the only nudity here is one dead man’s penis. If you think that’s some kind of progressive statement though, don’t worry it’s not. The penis is used for one of the film’s many gay panic “jokes”. Nothing worse than touching a penis, am I right guys?

Anyway, this is a fucking movie where the characters played by Johnson and Kelly Rohrbach have the same names as the characters played by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson in the series, which would lead you to assume that they’re the same characters updated for the new version, right? Somehow you’re wrong, because in a move that I still don’t entirely understand Hasselhoff and Anderson are both in this movie playing… the same characters? Don’t worry if you think that I just spoiled some big cameos though, because both of those original actors are credited in the opening titles, despite the fact that their appearances are both clearly teed up as if they are giant cameo reveals. Hell, Anderson doesn’t even show up until literally the final few seconds of the movie. It’s all well and good though, she’s got those boobies so who has time to spend on things like logic or common sense or anything resembling any sense of quality.