Author: Billy Madden
Think back to the early 1990s when you would fake an illness to skip school in hopes of being arrested by bad (yet fun) daytime TV. The early afternoon block consisted of The Price is Right with Bob Barker, Saved by the Bell, and David Hasselhoff’s Baywatch. Predating the ability to stream on the Internet, the silver screen was your primary source of entertainment, and those shows would be responsible for delivering the cheesy goods. Marking the new tradition of nostalgia-based films, the rebooted Baywatch movie, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron, attempt the same feat.
This feature is your typical buddy cop picture, but with lifeguards instead of police, who think they are a part of the force. The movie is very self-aware and uses that awareness as a comedy driver. It often takes jabs at the earlier TV show, which may miss their mark for the younger generation.
The plot is very basic. Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) runs tryouts to be on his Baywatch crew. Hot-dogging rookie and Olympic world champion swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron) tries to earn the respect of Buchanan and a spot on the team. The perfect opportunity for Brody to prove his mettle arrives when word gets out that a drug called Flaca is suspiciously being dealt with by land baroness Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). The Baywatch lifeguards must get to the root of the problem to clean up their beach amid the shady cover-ups and inter-agency conspiracies.
With such a beautiful beach setting, the opportunity for amazing cinematography was completely within reach. Unfortunately, they blew it. Incredibly cheap CGI tags along audiences to few explosions and water effects that looked downright poor and lazy. This was inexcusable for the budget they had to work with. The movie screamed cheap throughout when it had no reason to.
Overacting was rampant in the 116-minute run time. Obviously, they were trying to mimic the source material but were so heavy-handed that it quickly lost its charm. Most of the script delivers shabby one-liners surrounding either phallic jokes or crude humor. I will admit that some jokes did work, but most missed the beach.
Sadly, the two cameos with Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, primary stars in the original, were weird and appeared out of place. A better way to pull it off would have been in an after-credits scene instead of what we were given: bloopers that were not hilarious.
The music soundtrack throughout the film was fun and current, but they omitted the classic title track that opened up the TV show. It briefly appears in Hasselhoff’s cameo shot but gets cut short. It kind of annoyed me because it was one of the last great TV theme songs of that era, the only piece of reminiscence that the movie truly needed.
Due to poor script writing and terrible production value, you can avoid the water for this rescue effort that falls flat. Wait for Baywatch to arrive on Netflix because the price of tickets for this regurgitation of a beloved ’90s show was not worth it.
Rating: R (for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity)
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Hannibal Buress, David Hasselhoff, Belinda Peregrín, Izabel Goulart, Charlotte McKinney, Pamela Anderson
Screenwriters: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, Barry Schwartz
Genre: Comedy, Action
“Baywatch” follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) as he butts heads with a brash recruit (Efron). Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.