Baywatch, starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, is a turd of unparalleled proportions. I didn’t expect high art, I didn’t even get decent dick jokes.
Sadly, this film simply doesn’t work. The jokes don’t land, the soundtrack is achingly contemporary and absolutely hollow. It’s a shame, because the concept could have been a smash hit in the right hands. Instead it just comes across as if the creative team had a few drinks watching 21 Jump Street on Netflix and thought “fucking hell, this is easy, I could do this!”
It’s the almost the exact same story as Jump Street too, with similar reveals and “twists”. Except where that film was clever, sharp and extremely funny, Baywatch falls flat nearly every time.
Trying to catch drug dealers operating in the bay, Mitch ( a clearly embarrassed Dwayne Johnson) is forced to team up with unwanted new recruit, Brody (an excessively muscular Zac Efron). Brody is a douchey ex-Olympian who can’t work as part of a team and is forced to work as part of a team, because he needs to work as part of a team.
You can clearly see where this is going. Unfortunately the film thinks we are idiots and has to spell this out for us every five minutes. Neither of the two leads is likeable which really hurts the film, as you’re just not engaged or invested in any of these characters. A two hour movie that loses you in the opening 10 minutes, is a brutal chore to endure.
The cast, however, is actually pretty good, Alexandra Daddario as Summer doesn’t get much to do but does it well. Kelly Rohrbach takes the Pamela Anderson role as CJ. You’d never be able to recast someone as iconic, so I didn’t mind the decision to make her into an Anna Faris style slightly goofy character. Jon Bass as Ronnie was funny, but seemed to be doing a Josh Gad impression the whole time. I guess Gad was busy or too expensive. Or maybe he read the script.
The Get Down’s Yahya Abdul-mateen II plays the long suffering cop forced to deal with these rogue lifeguards. He is one of the few in the film who manages to come out of the film with his reputation unscathed. I look forward to seeing him as Black Manta in next year’s Aquaman movie.
One thing I liked was that the cast was racially diverse and the villain was an Asian lady, Leeds, played by Priyanka Chopra, again not given much to do but, shining nonetheless.
Baywatch, the TV show, while not being entirely realistic, at least managed to remain sincere. I feel the movie tried to both laugh at and nod to this unflinching sincerity, yet failed in the process. None of the meta jokes about Baywatch worked. None of the slow mo stuff was funny. At one point they even make the same “We’re based on a far fetched old TV show” joke from 21 Jump Street and THAT doesn’t work.
I wanted to like Baywatch, I’d have even liked to have said “it’s worth a watch” but it isn’t. It’s a total piece of shit, brand damaging for all involved. It managed to make comedian Hannibal Buress come across as boring and flat, a feat so spectacular it should win some kind of award.
Seth Gordon, who made King of Kong and the first Horrible Bosses, is usually a quality director, so I was shocked to see some terrible editing, ADR additions and woeful camera angles. There are so many over the shoulder conversation shots where mouth moments don’t sync and Zac Efron’s fringe changes position. I would not be shocked if news of reshoots or extensive editing came out. Something felt off.
So don’t waste your time or money. Wonder Woman is out soon, go see that instead!
For Fans Of:
The Dukes of Hazard
21 Jump Street
The House Bunny