Baywatch Movie Review

A beautiful day on the beach with kids playing, families swimming, and beautiful people getting tanned up.  A rather muscular and charismatic man (Dwayne Johnson) closes off the “No” to a sign that now reads: “Lifeguard on Duty.”  He steps onto his post and notices a change in the wind.  Immediately he jumps off his tower in a full sprint as the techno rock music begins to drive the scene.  The new change in wind catches a kitesurfer, launching him off his board and knocking him into the rough coral underneath the waves.  Mitch Buchanan(Johnson) is there in an instance, diving head first in dramatic slow-motion fashion.  Emerging from the water, carrying the rescued unconscious body up the beach, the words BAYWATCH rise from the ocean behind him as several dolphins leap in the air spraying water and belly-fiving.

Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron in Baywatch

If only the rest of the film was as hilariously energized and self-aware as the opening, BAYWATCH may have been something worth mildly recommending.  But even Dwayne Johnson can’t lift this doomed project out of the water. The number one rule for any comedy is to be consistently funny.  BAYWATCH simply isn’t as funny as it should be.  Sure the film has moments that might instigate a grin or even a chuckle here and there.  But ultimately the laughs are a struggle, giving most of its best moments away in the trailer and even with those, a smile is about the most one can muster at the juvenile humor.

Baywatch

Based on the worldwide television phenomenon that ran from 1989 to 2001, BAYWATCH is about a team of passionate lifeguards that go beyond their basic beach duties by solving crime and rescuing anyone from nearly all possible dangers. Mostly it was just an excuse to utilize beautiful people in bathing suits running in slow motion. The current film jumps at the opportunity to cash in on this age old joke by having the characters fully aware of the abundant cleavage and inability to move in regular time.  Fans of the original series will notice similarities of character names and even a joke that mentions some favorite episodes. BAYWATCH the movie tries to push the humor envelope by garnering an R-rating.  Outside of one visually shocking scene with minimal payoff in humor, the R-rating felt very unnecessary.  Using the “F” word in every sentence with a handful of weak penis jokes does not make a film funny.

21 JUMP STREET did the impossible by proving you can take an old television show and turn it into comic self-aware gold.  BAYWATCH has a portion/dash/ tiniest fragment of these elements, but comes nowhere near the bar that 21 JUMP STREET set before it.

Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron in Baywatch

There are a couple of positives mostly involving the cast. Dwayne Johnson steps in for David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchanan.  Obviously a heighten action hero version of the original character, Johnson proves again why he is a commanding force in Hollywood and can even dabble in comedy.  Easily the best part of the picture, Johnson elevates the lack of material in a way that may even fool some people into actually liking the film.  Zac Efron is a decent fit as the Ryan Lochte type, a cocky Olympic medalist who is one of three new recruits.  Johnson and Efron seem to be a fairly competent duo playing against each other quite well, if only they had more to work with. The rest of the team played by Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera mostly serve as eye candy with Jon Bass as the comic relief, mostly because he’s not as beach ready pretty as the rest of the team.

BAYWATCH is one of those films that almost seems silly to review.  For the most part, everyone should know what they are getting into.  A bunch of beautiful men and women in bathing suits in a pseudo comedy/action film.  Humor is definitely subjective, but I’ve got to believe even supporters of the film will admit the jokes are lukewarm at best with the potential to be better. The film might work as that rainy summer day movie where a group of friends are just looking for something to go see in order to fill the time with a few laughs. I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but I’m not it. If you are excited about seeing BAYWATCH, you might come out of it mildly entertained.  But if you think it looks like a stupid waste of time, you are exactly right.

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