Former Houston Movie Examiner for Examiner. Currently a film critic in the Houston, TX area. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society.
Grab Crime by the Shaft
Debuting in September of 1989, Baywatch the television series was the first major television program to revolve around T&A for blossoming kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s. The series was a huge accomplishment since it lasted 11 seasons and gained popularity for its slow-motion jiggle sequences, which likely fueled plenty of masturbatory embarrassment for anyone old enough to remember actually watching the show on a regular basis.
What's Been Updated
Fast forward 28 years and Hollywood gets the bright idea to reboot the series as an R-rated film. The storyline is essentially the same with a team of ridiculously good looking lifeguards in Emerald Bay, Florida, led by Lt. Mitch Buchanan (now played by Dwayne Johnson) taking an extreme amount of pride patrolling and protecting the bay, the beach, and anything else their fire engine red torpedo rescue float buoy will allow them access to. The team begins branching outside of their jurisdiction as they begin inspecting a conspiracy including a string of murders and struggle to contain the new recruits including a bad boy Olympic swimmer named Matt Brody (Zac Efron).
The action comedy film is lifted from a series that ran for over 11 years, so you’d think writing the film wouldn’t be that tough. The film has six writers; four on the story and two on the screenplay. What’s interesting is that the writers of the screenplay, Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, wrote Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th. The story was written by individuals responsible for the first two Smurfs films, Kevin James’ The Zookeeper, and the Night at the Museum films. Baywatch is directed by Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon. Looking at the vast array of talent behind the camera involved, Baywatch is a total mixed bag. These men are responsible for some god-awful films, but a few of them are pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately, nothing good translates to the screen as far as Baywatch is concerned.
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The formula for the R-rated Baywatch seems to be attempting a 21 Jump Street kind of reboot. Maybe it’s because 21 Jump Street had a five-year head start on Baywatch, but Baywatch fails to capture the same chemistry, be as humorous, or have a storyline so simple that it’s that stupid kind of brilliant. Baywatch thrives on jokes related to male genitalia. Jon Bass portrays Ronnie Greenbaum in the film; an out-of-shape dork who dreams of making the Baywatch team in hopes of having a chance with his dream girl CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach). There is a five-minute sequence where Ronnie gets his manhood jammed in a beach chair and everyone on the beach gathers around to help out. To make matters worse, Zac Efron finagles a flaccid dead man’s penis for what feels like an even longer period of time. There are only like seven penis jokes in the film, but they’re so frequent and seemingly last so long that “insert random dick joke here” feels like an integral part of the Baywatch team.
Interesting Concepts That Just Don't Reach
Baywatch is able to boast about this purposely outrageous and incredibly over-the-top opening title sequence that is slightly amazing due to how absurd it is. The film’s biggest issue is that it just isn’t funny. Dwayne Johnson’s ongoing list of boy band names for Zac Efron loses its steam far before he gets to the High School Musical reference. Unfortunately, the film just feels like it caters to male meathead characters who think they’re more valuable than they actually are. Most of the women in the film attempt to be strong and capable members of their team in addition to just being eye candy and having the main villain of the film be portrayed by a woman is a somewhat interesting decision, but none of these concepts seem to dive deep enough to really make a difference in the weak cinematic debacle we end up with.
Just Visit a Boys' Locker Room
Anyone with half a brain could’ve guessed that having women in bathing suits running in slow-motion wasn’t a strong enough basis to formulate a worthwhile blockbuster film. The new Baywatch takes a more adult approach, but its execution makes the beach feel like a boys' locker room complete with towel snapping, butt slapping, and crotch fondling. While Zac Efron’s comedic scream isn’t nearly as good as Ryan Gosling’s in The Nice Guys, it still may be the highlight of the film. Baywatch isn’t worth the time or the effort of seeing it in theaters unless you’re that dead set on seeing the second David Hasselhoff big-screen cameo of the year on the big screen.
Ryan from Louisiana, USA on June 28, 2017:
I love that movie the Nice Guys. I will wait for this one. It seemed like it wasn't going to be that great of a film. Definitely one you won't have to use your brain for.