Directed by Seth Gordon (2017)
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
Baywatch should not have happened.
One really has to wonder the type of market research that was conducted and ended with the conclusion: the world really needs a Baywatch movie. A movie based on a mediocre TV show from over a decade ago, that nobody ever really cared about in the first place and was one of the most unattractive things put to film about attractive people. People did not tune in to this show each week because of the impressive cinematic feats or the superb acting performances. No. It was for the “beautiful” bods. Nobody really watched Baywatch. It was that thing you would pass by on a hungover Sunday, when you were channel surfing. You would catch a Baywatch episode halfway through and well, it wasn’t in commercial and that slow motion running is so just so damn mesmerizing… f’ it, why not spend an afternoon with The Hoff.
Sure it had good-looking people, sandy beaches and a hokey premise but it was quick to be forgotten. Baywatch the movie is no different. It somehow has this power, that immediately after seeing it you forget everything about it. Sure you could blame it on the flask of whiskey you drank during it, but deep down you know the truth: there was nothing to see. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron, this almost two hour-long romp tries so hard to make you laugh that you almost kind of feel sorry for it. The plot is simple, yet somehow the storytelling is confusing. Baywatch tells the tale of a group of lifeguards who are in need of some new recruits. They hold a tryout session filled with obstacles such as carrying refrigerators (yes!) in search of new blood. The tryouts are led by the “Lieutenant” Lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Mitch lives the bay, breathes the bay, he is the bay. Nothing else in life matters except lifeguarding, he even informs us so: “The bay is life.”
Zac Efron plays Matt Brody, a cocky two-time gold medal Olympian, who seems to have a problem being a team player. He butts heads with Mitch which leads to snappy comebacks and humor that consistently falls flat. Of course one of the recruits has to be a paunchy dude (Jon Bass) with a big heart and weird chest hair. Since what is more funny than a fat guy with his shirt off running next to a bunch of beautiful people in slow motion, getting into compromising situations. Sigh. This guy of course falls head over heels for a blonde named CJ, played by Kelly Rohrbach. Throughout the movie we are witness to this snooze induced cat and mouse game. The story goes off the rails though, when this gang of bodacious babes discover a dead body that washes ashore. This leads to run-ins with a criminal ring that threatens the safety of the BAY! Since the cops don’t care about #baylife, this rag tag group decides they need to put on their detective hats to solve the crime. You walked in thinking you were seeing a comedy and instead you got a mystery to solve Scooby.
The story is told through poorly executed cinematography (Where are the goddamn breathtaking beach shots?) and dialogue filled with clichés, innuendoes, and Johnson jokes (this is not in reference to The Rock). It’s confusing as to who this movie was even made for. If a major point of the TV series was to look at half-naked men and women running around on the beach, won’t they be disappointed that the only nudity in an R-rated film adaptation was Oscar Nunez’s penis and no bare breasts? However, it must be applauded that the film made a concerted effort not to objectify women. Maybe the writers were too concerned with writing all those penis puns. Regardless, the women were barely even noticeable as they played second fiddle to The Rock and Efron Show.
In the end, you are left with a script that went spiraling after page 7, sculpted bodies (seriously, Zac Efron may have had an eight pack?), and dick jokes. Don’t feel bad about not caring though, neither did The Rock. Two thirds through the movie, he goes missing in action and then pops up again just in time for that Pamela Anderson cameo. That is called: winning. Has everyone in Hollywood completely lost their minds? They must have; the proof is Baywatch.