Directed by Seth Gordon
Produced by Ivan Reitman/Michael Berk/Douglas Schwartz/Gregory J. Bonann/Beau Flynn
Screenplay by Damian Shannon/Mark Swift
Story by Jay Scherick/David Ronn/Thomas Lennon/Robert Ben Garant
Based on the television series “Baywatch” created by Michael Berk/Douglas Schwartz/Gregory J. Bonann
I can’t say that I was much of a fan of the “Baywatch” TV series. Oh, sure I watched it occasionally. The TV series had one season on NBC and then went the syndication route. Fortunately it rode the Big Syndicated Boom of the 1990s to success. Syndicated shows packed the local stations here in Brooklyn and on Saturday afternoons I usually had the TV tuned into Channel 9 or 11 and just left it on there mainly as background noise while doing other things. What caught my attention when “Baywatch” came on was not the babes in the skintight red bathing suits (but they didn’t hurt either) but the surprisingly cool theme song. Check it out:
So how did I end up going to see the feature film homage/remake of the TV? Simple: The Wife wanted to see it. And to be honest about it, when I saw the trailers I thought it might be enjoyable on a goofy level of sheer stupid entertainment which I have no problem with. Hey, Dwayne Johnson is in it. How bad could it be?
Pretty bad as it turns out. BAYWATCH is a movie I would have found hilarious if I were twelve years old as it depends primarily on humor involving the abuse of the male genitalia and the constant use of the word “fuck” as somehow every character constantly saying the word over and over and over again is supposed to send me into a fit of screaming laughter. I am here to tell you it did not. And it’s a shame, really because here and there I saw glimpses of what could have been a reasonably good movie trying to get past the dick and boob jokes. When the movie sticks to the absurdity of lifeguards trying to solve murders and bring down international drug cartels, there are actually a few genuine laughs. But then the movie tries to have its cake and eat it too by having lifeguards trying to solve murders and bring down international drug cartels.
Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) heads up a team of elite lifeguards based in the city of Emerald Bay, Florida. Known collectively as Baywatch this team keeps the beach safe. With 500 rescues to his credit, Mitch is beloved by the community but clashes with the local police department represented by Officer Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his own boss Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel). Both of them are constantly exasperated by Mitch’s stubborn refusal to simply patrol the beach and keep people from drowning. There is no reason for him to continually be getting involved with hunting down serial killers, busting up illegal arms dealers and rescuing kidnapped rich kids.
In fact, Thorpe reminds Mitch that the Baywatch budget is continually being cut to compensate for the damage Mitch causes when he’s conducting his “investigations” and as a PR boost Thorpe has hired disgraced Olympic gold medal winner Matt Brody (Zac Efron) to Baywatch. Matt is that good old standby of these types of movies: he’s hot, he’s cocky and we know right from the start that even though he’s got a crush on Summer Quinn (Alexandria Daddario) the real romance of the movie is between him and Mitch as they go through the movie barking and biting at each other like an old married couple.
Mitch discovers a bag of drugs on his beloved beach, washed up near the exclusive Huntley Club which has just been purchased by the mysterious and enormously wealthy Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) We quickly discover how she got so wealthy; she’s an international drug smuggler who has purchased The Huntley Club as a front for her drug smuggling, intending to expand her business into Emerald Bay.
If you do decide you want to see this movie you should watch it for the performance of Priyanka Chopra who easily steals the movie with her charm, intelligence, deliciously wicked comic timing and extraordinary beauty. She has a great line where she describes her ambition to be a James Bond level supervillain and that’s exactly how she plays Victoria Leeds; as a Bond Villain and she does a marvellous job of it. As she’s easily the smartest, most resourceful, most cunning and most ruthless character in the movie she should have killed everybody 45 minutes in and continued with her scheme. But she’s foiled by Mitch and the Baywatch team simply because the screenwriters are too lazy to provide her with worthy opponents and they win just because they’re the good guys.
And like I said earlier, it’s a shame because Johnson and Efron do have good chemistry together and they deserved to have a better movie that could have taken advantage of that. The female co-stars in the movie are so bland and without personality it’s almost embarrassing. There is a nice subplot with one of the lifeguard trainees, Ronnie (Jon Bass) falling in love with C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) the most beautiful lifeguard on the beach. Ronnie is overweight, geeky and clumsy. Turns out that’s exactly the kind of guy that turns C.J. on. Like Johnson and Efron, Bass and Rohrbach also have a natural chemistry together and it’s truly a shame that the screenwriters couldn’t see their way to use what they had instead of figuring out yet another penis joke they could cram into a movie that already has way too many of them.
So should you see BAYWATCH? No. Seriously. Just no.