The TV show, Baywatch kind of missed me or maybe I missed it. I don’t think I ever made it through one episode. It was agonizingly bad TV. I did not find it to be in the “so bad it is good” category. Yes, I know guys watched for the babes and girls watched for the guys. but make no mistake about it the TV show’s demographics was predominately young male audiences. Sorry, as nice as the nice looking babes were, I needed something else, ya know? Like a story and interesting characters? Still, the show cemented its legacy in television history. Probably not the proudest moment of television history. So it only goes to say that it was a matter of time before Hollywood came around for a big screen version of the show. I was not surprised to see that Rotten Tomatoes has given the film an 18% positive review rating.
Baywatch, the movie, stars Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson as Mitch (originally played by David Hasselhoff, Star Lord’s dad), the lead of the lifeguards on a California beach (although most of the beach scenes were shot in Georgia and Florida). It is recruitment time and the usual candidates are there to prove they have what it takes to be an elite lifeguard. Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is an arrogant newbie picked by Mitch’s boss because of his two Olympic gold medals for his individual swimming ability. When it came to the team event he became known as the “Vomit Comet” as you will see why in the film. Brody thinks he does not have to try out but early on, he sees how unprepared he really is. Throw in Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) who more than makes up for his lack of ability to swim well, with his never-say-quit work ethic. He also is completely smitten with CJ.
Baywatch also stars Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds, the owner of a posh local club and the local drug dealer. Yahya Abdul Mateen II is the local beat cop who is always at odds with Mitch. Most of these characters are set up within the first 15 or so minutes into the film and there is not much depth to any of them, past Mitch and Brody. I did like the sweet relationship that buds between Ronnie and CJ. There is a very funny scene where Ronnie gets stuck in a beach chair in probably the most embarrassing way. In fact, I was surprised at how much I did laugh in Baywatch. The performances are par with the material and story, so everything that happened was predictable but still somewhat fun. No one is stretching their acting skills but they are at least invested in the story enough to make the film work. The entire cast does have chemistry and it goes a long way, here. The whole drug story is pretty routine, though and there is not much that is original in Baywatch, but still I found myself laughing.
Director Seth Gordon knows what did work for the TV show and he employs those elements in the film. I think most people will be able to figure that out what those elements are fairly quickly. Gordon, who directed the very funny Horrible Bosses and the occasionally amusing Identity Thief, makes for the raunchiness of those two films with foul language and scantily clad individuals and some pretty graphic gore. But he does it with a light touch of humor that worked for me. The script, by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, wisely does not take itself too seriously and everyone does seem to be enjoying themselves. Am I saying Baywatch is a great movie? Oh Lordy, no. It is predictable, silly and the final act of the film DOES make the mistake of focusing almost exclusively on the drug deal. But overall, if you can get past the fact that this there is enough cheese to Baywatch to give Wisconsin and the Swiss a run for their money, the odd, goofy energy of Baywatch might be just what is needed to kick off the summer.
Baywatch – *** out of 5
Baywatch – Rated R for language, nudity, some gore, sexual situations, violence
Baywatch – Run Time is 116 minutes
Baywatch is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.